NIANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — For decades, the Black Hawk Sport Fishing boat in Niantic has taken thousands of anglers out on the water to hunt for big fish — but the crew recently had a special assignment that supported United States veterans.

About 40 men and women from the Rocky Hill Veterans Home made their way down to Niantic last Monday for a day of fishing.

The 75-foot Blackhawk fishing boat was lined with fishing rods to serve these men and women who proudly served their country.

The annual fishing voyage out on Long Island Sound has been happening for a little more than ten years now.

Westbrook’s Phil Wetmore of the Northeast Saltwater Fishing Club helped get the program started.

“It’s really a privilege for me to see people that have been through wars come together and do their time in the military and a lot of people I see here don’t even fish they’re just happy to be on the water and come out here and relax for an afternoon,” Wetmore said.

Once he had the idea — Wetmore just needed to find a boat. He contacted captain Greg Dubrule on the Blackhawk — who was more than happy to help. He donated the boat, the mates and the tackle.

“It’s a win-win for everybody, I mean these poor guys, a lot of these guys are up in veterans home up in Rocky Hill and they don’t do that much so it’s nice to get them out for the day,” Dubrule said.

Meka McGhee, a veteran of the United States Navy had never been fishing.

“I mean I greatly appreciate it as a veteran I didn’t realize all the things that were available to us but deep sea fishing was not something I had the opportunity to do so I’m glad these guys are here to make it easy for me,” McGhee said.

Barry Lorette is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and these fishing trips mean the world to him.

For Wetmore and the members of his fishing club, it’s more than just the thrills and smiles of the veterans.

“There are so many people who give so much to this country. It makes me proud to be a vet and to give back,” Wetmore said.