Organization using fly fishing to help veterans soldiers on after loss of founder

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 9:05 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The water holds no scars. That’s the slogan of Platte Rivers Veteran Fly Fishing - used to remind veterans suffering from mental and physical wounds that there is a peace to be found through the power of water.

But a now they have a new challenge to face - navigating those waters without the man who started it all.

In 20-18 we introduced you to duane cook, the founder of platte rivers veteran fly fishing.

It was founded on the belief that “the water holds no scars” - using fly fishing to help veterans heal the wounds of war.

“He wanted people to know what he knew of the results of being able to be outdoors, and coping with those demons and those thoughts, those anxieties that he felt when he was fishing.” Joe O’Conner, Board President of Platte Rivers told us.

Duane used fly fishing -- and all the aspects of it, from building rods, to tying flies, to getting a line in the water. A Vietnam veteran, Duane used his seemingly limitless energy and love for people to turn Platte Rivers into the success it is today.

Platte Rivers has helped hundred of veterans - including army veteran Travis Hipps, who says the program saved his life.

Like many veterans of war, Travis came back with scars.

“It changed me as a person,” Travis said, “I didn’t think it did when i came back, but it changed me as a person.”

The scars of war, and dealing with them, had kept Travis from holding down work in the past. Today, he’s getting ready to take a job as a professional fishing guide in Colorado.

Platte Rivers was slowed in 2020 during the pandemic, though they still managed to have day fishing trips and used zoom for virtual fly tying clinics.

But then, in December, Platte Rivers was dealt a hard blow. Duane Cook, their founder and driving force, passed away. His passing, Joe says, has left a void - but that void is not stopping them. The people and conditions may change - the mission does not.

This it what Duane would have wanted.” said Larry Neasloney, Platte rivers Treasurer, “Forge ahead, soldier on as it were. And continue what his vision was.”

Soldier on, and carry on Duane’s vision, continue his legacy, and remember the man - and that means remembering he was both a man for the people, but a passionate family man first.

“Duane was a husband, a father, and a grandfather first.” O’Connor said, “Platte Rivers was his activity that he did, but his true passion was for his family.”

We also spoke with Duane’s daughter, Jacqueline, who reiterated Joe’s words, adding that he was the best husband, best father, and the best grandfather.

Platte Rivers has every intention of carrying on Duane’s vision -- including an honor flight for combat veterans. They plan to keep tying, keep fishing, and keep helping. The organization website has a memorial page for Duane. On it is a message: “Rest easy, brother. We’ll take it from here.”

To learn more about Platte Rivers and what they do, head to their website.

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