Community recognizes veterans during Warriors on the Water event in Oshkosh

OSHKOSH, Wi. (WBAY) - For many veterans, a simple thank you can mean a lot. Dozens of men and women who’ve served got that and so much more on Saturday.

Warriors on the Water is only in its second year, but it already has a lot of fans.

“They love it,” said Wounded Warriors United of Wisconsin President Otto Reetz. “I mean, if you’re down on the boat ramp and you’re watching the veterans come in they got smiles, even if they didn’t catch anything.”

About 80 veterans participated this year, which is double the number from the event’s first year.

“It’s exciting and it’s an amazing feeling to see it grow that fast,” said Reetz.

The event is hosted by Wounded Warriors United of Wisconsin, but it isn’t just a fishing day off Skipper Bud’s Marina in Oshkosh. Reetz brings each veteran up on a stage to be recognized by the community.

“For the sacrifices that they have gone through to allow us to have the things that are important to us: our freedom,” said Reetz.

For veterans like Kit Amidzich, who served in the army from 2001 to 2004, events like these are humbling.

“There’s so much joy that comes from seeing everybody come together because realistically this is what we miss the most when we get out of the service,” said Amidzich. “So being able to reconnect with all the branches, and just seeing all the civilian support, is something that we absolutely love.”

Each year the community is invited to welcome the warriors, and this year dozens answered that call.

“We did sign our name, we did raise our hand twice, and we were willing to die for them,” said Amidzich. “So having their support, seeing that we came home, matters a lot.”

Both the veterans and organizers would love to see the event grow even more next year.

“The word is spreading,” said Reetz. “People, family, friends of veterans are finding out about us.”

“This is my actual first year being here, but won’t be my last,” said Amidzich.

The event also offered food and various raffles. While food for the veterans was free, any money raised by community members went to support Wounded Warriors United of Wisconsin.