Healing Heroes in Action tour goes LIVE

JONESBORO, Ark. — This could have been an uncomfortable situation for anyone: Competing in a bass tournament with a Bassmaster Elite Series pro partner for all the world to see your fishing skills, or lack thereof, on “Bassmaster LIVE.”

And for a military veteran who has earned a Purple Heart medal, it might be even more stressful. What’s supposed to be a lighthearted outing could feel like an unwanted spotlight.

But the latest edition of the OPTIMA Batteries Edwin Evers Healing Heroes in Action Tour presented by General Tire was anything but a pressure-cooker for anyone involved. And that was despite temperatures that reached the mid 90s on a private lake near here.

See photos: On the water | Launch and weigh-in

“The only pressure I feel is trying to find a way to communicate how much I appreciate everything that was done for us,” said Chris Ritchie, who earned his Purple Heart as a Navy Seabee, when a mortar round killed five of his fellow soldiers, wounded 30 and sent three pieces of shrapnel through his abdomen during the Iraq War in 2004. “So much was done for us, and I don’t know how to appropriately say thanks.”