It all started with a chance meeting at one of our after work hang out spots. RedRum owner, John Donovan and myself were sitting at “The Point” wrapping up our day with a little pizza. In typical John style he greeted and introduced himself to a nice couple that walked in. After their initial introduction Ashley Aycock commented on Johns camouflaged RedRum hat he was wearing. Unbeknownst to us, John and Ashley just started a relationship that would soon change lives of many around them. Ashley shared with us that her brother Brett had served a tour in Iraq. On February 13th of 2005 he took a grenade blast while he was in sniper position on a rooftop in Ramadi. After 12 surgeries and countless procedures to try to alleviate the nerve damage from the blast he unfortunately took his own life (February 24th, 2015). Right then John knew that this was no chance meeting. I could tell just by sitting with him at dinner that night that he was affected by Ashley’s story. Soon after that John reached out to Ashley in an effort to get involved with Veteran support. Ashley connected him Cody Hirt, co-founder of Veteran Outdoors. Cody and his partner Wes Higgins operate a non-profit organization that is committed to “honoring our country’s wounded veterans’ patriotism and their sacrifice by providing quality hunting, fishing and outdoor related activities”. He knew that RedRum had to get involved so he flew to Austin, TX to meet Cody and attend an Veteran Outdoors event. He also surprised Ashley with his visit!
John has long worked at raising awareness for our Veterans, a passion he has carried with him and one that he feeds any chance he can get! RedRum has hosted several Veterans in the past but nothing like the project he has been working on the last 3 months. Fish a Day in My Shoes is a collaboration between RedRum Sportfishing and Veteran Outdoors in which we will be lucky to host some very special anglers for a few days.
Fish a Day in My Shoes will be granting 4 Veterans the trip of a lifetime with an action filled agenda that most people can only dream of while down in Cabo! The trip is a token of our appreciation to their dedication to our country as well as a tool to help raise awareness to the fact that there are people and families like Brett and Ashley’s that are affected by Veteran suicides everyday. It is said that 22 Veterans commit suicide a day.
Cody Hirt and Brad Strittmatter will be representing Veteran Outdoors and will be traveling with (4) US Veterans:
1.) Travis Lee Cox served 8 years in the US Marine Corps within the recon & force recon communities (Marine Special Operations). He served on one combat deployment to Iraq as a point man and designated marksman within a force recon team. After completing this deployment he was then sent to Scout/Sniper Instructor School in Quantico VA where he was fortunate enough to graduate. Sgt. Cox then finished his career as an Assistant Team Leader of a recon team and as the Chief Scout Sniper Instructor of his Recon Company.
2.) John Alexander Botts was born and raised in Nashville Tennessee. Upon graduating from high school, he enlisted in the US Army as a Military Police officer. He enlisted after 9/11, and felt that it was his duty to assist with the protection of this great nation. He graduated basic training in February of 2003 and was in Iraq by March of 2003 fighting in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served 1 year in Iraq and upon returning to the United States he married his wife in July of 2004. He went back to Iraq in October of 2005 and on September 7th 2006 was injured in an IED attack on his convoy. He was the TC of a Military Police team and his vehicle was struck with an EFP IED. The blast from the attack severed his left leg above the knee and left him with shrapnel wounds and a broken right tibia on his right leg. He was the only severe casualty in the attack; both his driver and gunner had only minor shrapnel wounds to their legs and face. He was flown from Baghdad to Germany and then on to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. He ended up in San Antonio TX at Brooke Army Medical Center and from there he received medical treatment and learned how to walk on a prosthetic leg. He was medically retired from the Army in 2009 and went back to college and graduated with his degree in Social Work. He currently has a set of twin daughters who are 2 years old and is residing in Nashville TN. He enjoys hunting, fishing and occasionally playing golf even though he is much better at the first two hobbies! He enjoys spending time with my family and friends.
3.) Eric Baggs served 16 years in the US Navy as an FMF (Fleet Marine Force) Corpsman. FMF Corpsmen are the medical assets within the Marine Corps because the Marine Corps does not have a medical division or medical personnel. Chief Baggs was assigned to an infantry weapons company, recon company, and a force recon platoon as a corpsmen during the majority of his career. He served on two combat deployments within the recon & force recon communities. He was severely wounded on his first tour in Iraq and was later decorated with the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor along with a purple heart for actions that evening. After healing from his wounds he then volunteered to return to combat duty with a recon company in Afghanistan.
4.) Dan Robles Army MSG Daniel Robles was on his third deployment in April 2006 when he lost both of his legs in an IED attack near Baghdad, Iraq. As the Mortar Platoon Sergeant, MSG Robles was leading a mission to investigate a possible weapons cache site when his vehicle was hit by the IED. Seeing the devastation to his legs and feet, he knew he had been seriously injured. Trapped in the HUMVEE, and not wanting to go into shock, he refocused his thoughts and began shouting orders to his men..telling them to “pull security”and secure the location. Amid all of the commotion the vehicle caught fire…luckily, it was extinguished before jeopardizing the lives of those still trapped inside. Communicating over hand-held radio, MSG Robles called for a medic and assisted as his soldiers, one of them injured and unable to open his eyes, applied tourniquets to both of his legs. Transported by helicopter to the local Combat Support Hospital, MSG Robles remembers thanking the pilot before falling unconscious for 2 days and waking up in Landstuhl, Germany. He was later transported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and eventually Brooke Army Medical Center, where he spent two months in the hospital, recovering from his injuries and beginning his physical therapies. MSG Robles is grateful for the support he and his family have received from their community. Daniel enjoys outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and camping; he also plays defense for the San Antonio Rampage Sled Hockey Team, entering his third year with the team next season. Daniel is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems and enjoys spending as much time as he can with his wife, Ernestine and their daughter, Mary.
Upon their arrival to Cabo San Lucas on May 17th they will be greeted by the RedRum family at the airport where our initial introductions will be made. After a short ride from the airport to the RedRum Condos the Veterans will have little time to rest before our kick-off dinner. Misiones de Kino, and our great buddy/owner Israel Vasquez-Sanchez will be hosting the group for the official kick-off celebration with “cocktails by Alonso” and tasty tapas by his Cabo famous kitchen!
RedRum Sportfishing will be hosting the group on 3 of our boats for a couple of days on the water! The group will be broken down into 3 teams. El Nuevo, 19’s Toy and Oh So Rojo will be heading out and hopefully providing 2 days that they will never forget! The fishing is picking up so we are excited about landing some big fish for our special clients! John and Ryan Donovan along with myself will be heading out with each group to help them out and cheer them on!
Dinners after both days of fishing will be taken care of by some great places in town. On the 18th we will be heading down the street to meet our buddies over at Roasted Grill and Bar. This family owned restaurant has been nothing but great to us since they’ve opened and gladly jumped at the opportunity to give back to our Veteran Outdoors group. Here we will enjoy some great seafood, bebidas and some laughs!
After our 2nd day of fishing we will head down the Marina from our office and visit La Chatita Restaurant. Our usual after work cerveza spot volunteered to host a special dinner/awards ceremony for the group. Here John will give a farewell speech, hand out some awards and share a few more great times with the group! Thanks to Roasted and Chatita for stepping up and helping out.
Aside from eating and fishing (two things we love the most down here) the Veterans will also be spending a day at Wild Canyon Adventure Park on the 19th. Here the group will be able to experience anything from the famous Zip Line attraction, camel riding, cruising through the canyon in souped up all terrain vehicles, bungee jumping as well as spend some time with owner Leon Robles (pictured above with John). When asked if he was excited about having the group down Leon said “are you kidding me?! This is what the park is for, I cannot wait to share my park with some of the people I look up to the most in the world. We are the lucky ones to be spending the day with them, not the other way around“!
The 21st will be a sad day as we say our “good-byes” to the Veteran Outdoors Group.
I think Leon was speaking for all of us when he put it that way. We are truly the lucky ones to be able to host such a great group. In my curiosity I asked John why he felt it so important to give back to our Veterans and he explained to me that “it would be a shame if I were to miss out on an opportunity to give back to the people that risk their lives to secure our freedom“. He went on to tell me that “as a former Marine I understand the sacrifice and I feel like I have no choice but to give back. I think that if every corporation or business gave back to these awesome Veterans it would help reduce or delete the number of them that commit suicide. That would be a great day for all of our Veterans and me too“. He has definitely opened my eyes to the truth and the struggle most of our Veterans go through. It is important to take care of those that have taken care of US. We hope to be lucky enough to bring down more individuals that have served our Country in the future. So long as there are people like Cody and Wes as well as true organizations like Veteran Outdoors we think it will be possible.
Thank you to all of the folks that are helping make this possible including the family at RedRum Sportfishing, Veteran Outdoors, Misiones de Kino, Roasted, La Chatita, Wild Canyon, Grays Taxidermy and Costa Del Mar Sunglasses.
An even grander “thank you” to all the Veterans of the United States Armed Forces and their families. Your courage, loyalty, dedication and honor is what makes our country proud.
For information in regards to helping RedRum in their pursuit of serving our Veterans please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org (attention: John or Luis) or come by the shop and make a donation to the “Veterans Ammo Box”. You can also check out Veteran Outdoors to make a donation (please note “Cabo Trips” if you’d like to contribute to our cause).