Vietnam veteran catches final fish as dying wish - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Vietnam veteran catches final fish as dying wish

(WWBT) -

A touching story from Georgia as a Vietnam veteran had his dying wishes granted thanks to the VA Medical Center in Dublin.

According to a report shared by NBC affiliate KSNV, Connie Willhite, a Soperton, Georgia native and U.S. Navy veteran who was being cared for at the Hospice Care Unit at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center, asked for only two things before he died: he wanted to be baptized and he wanted to catch one more fish.

To start, VA chaplain Sam Scaggs helped Willhite with his baptism. His family joined him to witness the event, which Willhite requested so he could be prepared for “crossover.”

Then, hospice social worker Greg Senters helped Willhite plan his last fishing trip, bringing him the essential bait and gear his would need for the outing.

Senters and nursing staff took the veteran to a lake behind the medical center where they were a bit nervous Willhite wouldn’t catch any fish, but he ended up with four in total.

"It's called fishing, it's not called catching. So I told him we may not catch anything, but he said it doesn't matter," Senters said. "He said just being out there doing this was just as good."

Senters recalled what it was like to see Willhite’s face light up when he reeled in the first fish.

"All of a sudden, the cancer and everything else went away, and what you see is that precious few moments of someone really enjoying life," Senters said.

Lisa Kittrill, Willhite’s cousin, shared that the man was a joy to their family and that they owe him so much.

"He talked and talked when I came in that day, and said he went fishing and got baptized, and for that I'm so glad," Kittrill said.

Lisa would visit him daily in hospice and was grateful to the Dublin VA for taking care of a valued member of their family and helping them deal with the loss.

Willhite died peacefully on Aug. 29.

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