PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. Sept. 17, 2011 –Sgt. 1st Class Tim Cunningham of Willington, Vt., and Spc.  Ray Rawling of West Minister, Vt., won the National Guard FLW Soldier Appreciation Tournament held on Lake Champlain Saturday. The team, fishing with National Guard pro Jonathan Newton of Rogersville, Ala., caught three bass for a total of 11 pounds, 2 ounces to take the title and bragging rights amongst their peers.
“This was a really great day,” said Sgt. 1st Class Cunningham. “I have only been fishing with my kids before and this was my first time on Lake Champlain.
“We had an awesome day catching fish. Jonathan drove us right to a spot and we caught fish there all day long. It was amazing.”
“We were drop-shotting Zoom baits,” said Spc. Rawling. “Jonathan really taught us a lot. I have been working down in the flood areas of Vt., and it was really nice to be able to get away for a short break.”
All of the participants in the National Guard FLW Soldier Appreciation Tournament are members of the New York or Vermont National Guard and West Point. Most have had at least one tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. In this tournament, Walmart FLW Tour pro anglers took teams of two, which consist of members of the National Guard, fishing to compete amongst their peers. Each team was allowed to bring in three bass. FLW Outdoors is operating the tournaments in conjunction with the National Guard to show appreciation to our service members of the National Guard.
“It is such an honor to be able to take these guys out fishing,” said National Guard pro Jonathan Newton. “To give back just a little bit for what these service men and women do for our country is the least I can do.
“Over the past six years I have met a lot of men and women in the National Guard and have become good friends with several,” Newton continued. “Not one has ever had a bad word to say about their job. They all truly love what they do and that fact alone gives me even greater respect and appreciation for all that they do for us and our country.”
A total of 13 service men, seven teams, participated in the tournament. Rounding out the teams were:
  • 2nd:    Sgt. 1st Class Robert Hicks, Troy, N.Y. and 2nd Lt. Cory Ryder, Grand Isle, Vt., fishing with National Guard pro Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., three bass, 10-5
  • 3rd:     Maj. Chris Hoffman, Londonderry, N.H., and Maj. Kenneth Wisniewski, Lakeville, Mass., fishing with National Guard pro Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., three bass, 10-4
  • 4th:     Maj. Kevin Eubanks (West Point), Corsicana, Texas fishing with National Guard pro Mark Rose, Marion, Ark., three bass 8-12
  • 5th:     West Point Cadets Justin Hunter, Concord, Calif., and Alex Kish, Southbend, Ind., fishing with National Guard pro Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., three bass, 8-7
  • 6th:     Command Sgt. Maj. Toby Quick, Fletcher, Vt., and Sgt. Keith Hunt, North Pownal, Vt., fishing with National Guard pro Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., three bass, 6-1
  • 7th:     Staff Sgt. Kevin Wesolow, Barton, Vt., and Staff Sgt. Beau Mader, Knoxville, Tenn., fishing with National Guard pro Command Sgt. Maj. Michael McGhee, Blackstone, Va., three bass, 5-13
The Soldier Appreciation Tournament was held in conjunction with the Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Champlain presented by Snickers Peanut Putter Squared and hosted by the City of Plattsburgh – New York and the Adirondack Coast Visitors & Convention Bureau.

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