DUBLIN, GA (WTVM) – Workers at a Veteran's Affairs medical center granted a dying veteran's last wish: to be out gone fishin' one final time.
U.S. Navy combat veteran Connie Willhite from middle Georgia served in the "brown water Navy" in Vietnam, but was admitted to the hospice unit at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Georgia when his health began to deteriorate.
Willhite told the VA staff he had two final wishes: to be baptized so that he would be properly prepared to "crossover" and catch just one more fish.
A VA chaplain was called in and held a baptism ceremony in Willhite's room.
As the days at the end of his life became a challenge, Willhite found that fishing helped ease his mind and helped him get away from the stresses of life for a little while.
"There's nothing like fishing. Even when they're not biting, it's still a good day to be outside, Willhite said, "I know I'm dying and the cancer is going to get me, but as long as I can go, I want to fish."
Lake Leisure Inc., a local citizens group dedicated to veterans' needs made sure he could go fishing one final time.
With the help of a motorized hospital bed, Willhite, nursing staff, and a VA social worker, went to the lake where Willhite baited his fishing line up one last time and caught a fish!
"I'll never forget the look on his face… Seeing Mr. Willhite achieve success in his final days was more than gratifying, it's a memory that I'll always cherish. Moments like that make me proud to be in social work and to serve veterans," ,social worker Greg Senters said.
Sadly, Connie Willhite died peacefully on Aug. 29, but he got to see his two final wishes come true and left a lot of memories that will get his family and friends through many difficult days ahead.