Thank you, HM1 Shane Gilley

HM1 Shane Gilley is currently assigned to the Marine Special Operations Command.

About the author

Chris Lane

Chris Lane

Chris Lane is a six-time winner on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail and the 2012 Bassmaster Classic champion.

Rather than talk about my mediocre performance in the first two tournaments of the season, I think we should put a face to the men and women who make this sport, as well as our way of life, possible.

That means we’re going to talk about HM1 Shane Gilley. He’s pulled several tours of duty in Afghanistan as a Navy Corpsman during his 15-year-plus military career. He’s currently assigned to the Marine Special Operations Command. He’s representative of all the men and women serving in uniform.

I first learned about him at the launch during the 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro. His uncle, Paul Fisler, told me about him, and showed me what he stands for, by presenting me with a flag.

Gilley wanted me to have something from him. To say it’s an honor is something of an understatement. I’m as proud of that flag as I am of anything I have ever received from our military people. It’s one thing to generically thank our men and women in uniform. It’s another to receive a gift from one of them, see a photo of him and hear his story from a family member. That makes it personal.

I might add that Gilley’s uncle tells me that Gilley is one heck of a fishing partner as well as one heck of a warrior.

When I think back on the morning I received that flag, I can’t help but think about my own life, and how Gilley has made it possible. Back in the day, Holly and I were just getting started. For the most part we traveled around the country in a camper trying to figure out a way to earn a living in this business.

There was a song we really related to during those early years. It was “Free by the Zac Brown Band. The words to the first part of the song go like this:

So we live out in our old van
Travel all across this land
Me and you

We'll end up hand in hand
Somewhere down on the sand
Just me and you

Just as free
Free as we'll ever be
Just as free
Free as we'll ever be

Drive until the city lights
Dissolve into a country sky
Just me and you

Lay underneath the harvest moon
Do all the things that lovers do
Just me and you

Just as free
Free as we'll ever be
Just as free
Free as we'll ever be
Ever be

Those days were some of the best we’ve ever had. I don’t mean to say that I don’t love having the kids, or that I don’t appreciate where we are now. I most certainly do.

But there was something special about the early years. We didn’t know it at the time but they were what made us into what we are today. In truth, they were good for us. Now we appreciate what we have. We take nothing for granted.

That’s why you’ll not hear me complain about my slow start this year, and I’m not going to write about it. (I did cash a check at Seminole, though, and the kids had a ball there. Both venues were fantastic.)

It’s not that I don’t care about how many fish I catch or how big they are. It’s that I know there are more important things. Thank you, HM1 Shane Gilley, as well as all the other men and women serving, for making those more important things possible.

Chris Lane’s column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website, www.chrislanefishing.com.

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