American Heroes on The Gulf Weekend May 9-10 in O.B.

American Heroes on The Gulf Weekend May 9-10 in O.B.
By Fran Thompson
The American Heroes On The Gulf, a banquet & fishing excursion that honors 150 disabled veterans, returns to Orange Beach for the eighth consecutive year this month.
The fun will start with a vip welcome banquet at the Orange Beach Event Center on May 9. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the program is from 6 – 9 p.m. Alabama Coastal Catering will provide food, and the banquet includes a silent auction and a concert by the Michael B-Reddy Band. Table of 10 sponsorships are $750, with individual tickets available for $75.
Funds raised during the weekend support Ironmen Outdoor Ministries quest to bless veterans, first responders, children, and adults with disabilities and special needs who are in need. More info: Rick Murphy at 334-207-6068, Rachel Godwin at 251-609-3400 or Jeff Godwin at 850-261-4699.
A full slate of 150 vets from 30 different states and every military branch will be here to bond and share their special challenges during the weekend. The itiniary includes a deep sea fishing trip on 19 charter boats leaving Hudson Marina, Zeke’s Marina and Caribe Marina at 7 a.m. on May 10. The event concludes with a BBQ hosted by Travis Hudson of Hudson Marina featuring live music following the fishing trip. Volunteers will clean the fish caught that day and distribute it among the vets.
Ironmen Outdoor Ministries was founded in Montgomery in 2007 by Rick Murphy and Greg Godwin, who were ushers at the same church. Their first event was a catfish roundup for 10 wheelchair bound children at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.
“We felt so blessed to see the children catch those fish and have a good time,’’ said Murphy. “We still do that event.
“We do this to honor the Lord first and foremost,’’ he added. “And we make sure we let the veterans know we have their backs just like they had our backs.’’
When Godwin and his wife Rachel moved to Gulf Shores in 2004, he brought the idea for this event with him. With help from the Mobile Big Game Fishing Club, American Heroes On The Gulf hosted 25 veterans in 2016. It is now capped at 150 veterans organized by Festus Potee.
Upon arrival, each vet receives a welcome bucket that includes everything from towels to gift certificates to commemorative coins and t-shirts with the American Heros on the Gulf motto: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’’
Greg Godwin saw his dream come to fruition before he died of kidney failure in January of last year. His wife Rachel was somehow able to push through and carry on his work just a couple months later. The event is now officially named in Greg Godwin’s honor.
“Rachel does a fantastic job, and it was unbelieveable so courageous and bold that she was able to do this even with what she was going through last year,’’ Murphy said.
The charters will be sent off with water cannons in Perdido Pass from local marine patrols and a flyover from a Cessna carrying a “Welcome Warriors’’ sign. The families of the veterans will enjoy a dolphin cruise organized by Rachel Godwin while the vets are fishing.
“I am so blessed that I get to help carry on my sweetheart’s legacy. This event was Greg’s vision. He talked about it for years and then it became a reality,’’ Rachel said in 2023.
“What is amazing is they talk mostly about the good things in their life,’’ Greg Godwin told the Mullet Wrapper before the 2022 event.
“The main thing is to make sure we are loving and honoring our veterans and we are giving our disabled veterans who come here something the can hang onto and use to help other veterans,’’ Murphy said.
“It gives them a purpose and allows them to take the focus off of themselves. They paid the price for thier country and now they want to see what they can do to help others,’’ Murphy added.
“Everybody that comes gets that hook in their mouth and then they are hooked for life. It’s a feel good kind of thing because we get to help others and you can’t beat that. People need hope and people need good things. And that’s what this is. It’s a good thing.’’
“All they have to do is get there, and we take over with the rest,” Murphy said. “We love on them and tell them the Lord loves then and thank them for what they have done for us.”
Murphy said Festus is not his real name, but his contribution is invaluable, as he makes sure the vets are able to get here with a secure billet at Camp Baldwin waiting for them.
Murphy said the City of Orange Beach and its mayor (Tony Kennon) and the Coastal Alabama Chamber, which recently named Ironmen Outdoor Ministries its 2024 designated charity, have been especially supportive of the event.
“They support us because we do what we say we are going to do when we say we are going to do it,’’ Murphy said. “We are all volunteers and pay our own way, but this gives everybody involved such a good feeling to thank them and tell them that they do make a difference and to please have fun, have a good time, and whatever you need, just let us know and we will try our best to accomodate you.’’
Pictured: Staff, boat captains and American Heros on the Gulf volunteers recently gathered for a Coastal Alabama Chamb er of Commerce ribbon cutting.