The road to Freedom began in 1967 in the central highlands of Vietnam. A predawn attack by the North Vietnamese left me with a paralyzed right arm, and a 60% paralyzed right leg. I was unable to speak, and suffering from PTSD that wouldn’t be diagnosed until 2015. I was medevacked from Vietnam to Japan and finally to Letterman’s General Hospital in San Francisco where I ended my Army career at 19.
My wife and I moved to Seattle in 2005 where I became interested in fishing. There was something about being on the water that was peaceful and relaxing to me; fishing was as good of a reason as any to be out. Fishing with one arm can be a stressful experience, trying to manage the rod while reeling in a fish can be terrifying. If you hook a big enough fish it can be expensive as you rod is pulled over the side of the boat. I soon discovered that I needed a rod holder to manage the rod while I managed the fish. There were no rod holders on the market that I could find that would meet my needs. The decision to make my own equipment was an easy one to make.
Lucky for me, my dad was a DIY kinda guy and he taught me all about how things worked. It didn’t take long before we had a successful design, we called the Barracuda. The Barracuda met all the requirements we had for fishing. It worked so well that my wife and I decided to make it available to others that had a similar disability.
Especially to our returning military men and women who were disabled. Veterans who returned home after having left some part of themselves on the battlefield. Some of these men and women deal with their own horror, while trying to fit in. The Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed on average 22 veterans were dying by suicide every day, or one every 65 minutes.
Our little business Freedom Adaptive Systems started in 2012 but didn’t start doing business until 2014. On May 18, 2014 we receive an email from Steve in the UK about the Barracuda we sent him for his friend who had a stroke and had given up.
In February 2015 we received another email from Chilton in South Africa: “HI Eddie, Sorry was going through my photos and remembered you wanted some pics. He is my nephew – I have a Deep Sea Boat and fish every chance I get. The Barracuda is going great – its comfortable and well put together. After my Motocross accident I was extremely depressed to the thought of never fishing again. And in South Africa the focus on disabilities is a far cry from USA – So I want to thank you for giving me my freedom back. I will send you a video of me fishing off the rocks in the Transkei managed to land a Raggie-tooth shark. Keep well and thanks for saving me. Kind Regards, Chilton’
In September 2015 Seattle’s King 5 News contacted Freedom Adaptive Systems wanting to do a story on us. We all met in Olympia, Washington and spent the afternoon fishing. It’s then we knew Freedom Adaptive Systems had a product to be proud of.
By the end of 2016 three more adaptive rod holders were added to Freedom Adaptive Systems’ inventory: The Side Winder, a rod holder worn on the hip or side, the Dorado, a rod holder made for a wheelchair to transfer the energy of fighting a fish to the chair not the angler, and the Barracuda Fly, a fly fishing rod holder that replaces the original rod holder of the Barracuda with the fly fishing rod and reel holder of the Barracuda Fly,
The Barracuda was showcased in Mexico by Angler West TV, a syndicated fishing show, A friend of a man who lost his right arm and leg in combat had this to say about the Barracuda: “I’ve seen this beast in action when my friend and I went tuna fishing in the Pacific. He wore the Barracuda because he only has one arm. We were both curious at first if it would hold up, but he was fighting and pulling in tuna in no time at all. We were out there fishing almost all day. If you’ve ever fished tuna you know how much of a fight they put up. The Barracuda did its job with ease. It’s lightweight, comfortable and can be used with either hand. We brought in over 60 tuna that day and because of the Barracuda I can honestly say I’ve been out fished by a one armed man!” J. Tanton on March 14, 2017
If you would like to have a great fishing adventure and need a little help holding a fishing rod; call us or catch us on the web. Experience the difference that control, independence, confidence, and excitement make when you use Freedom Adaptive Systems’ fishing rod holders.
Thank you and have a great day.