The original logo of Warriors & Quiet Waters is the seal of a dream to make the lives of post-9/11 veterans worth living following traumatic, and sometimes catastrophic, wounds sustained in combat. Within that seal were the rivers, the fish, the fly line, and Montana — what founder and retired Marine Colonel Eric Hastings credits for saving his life after returning home from the Vietnam War.
In Eric’s words:
Our first FX was in the last week of July 2007. It coincided with the Blue Angel Air Show in Bozeman. We brought in seven warriors. We wanted to get the warriors here as soon as possible after wounding to prove to them that life was worth living. What I didn’t want to see is what I had witnessed in Vietnam, where people went to military and VA hospitals and fell off the face of the earth. My wife Jean and I wanted them to realize that outdoor activities and fly fishing, in particular, were really good ways to cope. I know from my personal experience that fly fishing is exceptionally restorative to post-traumatic stress, because I had a severe case of it myself. That’s how I coped with it.
My father started fly fishing in the valley in 1929 when he came here for school. I learned to fly fish from him at age 10, but I didn’t really learn to be a fisherman until I would return to Bozeman on leave from the Marine Corps.
One day in a restaurant, I overheard Volney Steele trying to sell some old curmudgeons on the idea of bringing wounded combat veterans to Bozeman and teaching them to fly fish. I had already written a white paper on the subject, so I took Volney Steele to my house and showed him how to make it happen.
From there, we had a meeting at the library. Forty people showed up. We decided then and there to start a nonprofit based on the paper I wrote. That was toward the end of January 2007. I had the paperwork ready by March and put it in the mail. That’s the date you are considered a legitimate organization by the federal government.
In my driveway, Volney Steele and I decided what to call the organization. I said, “They are warriors, and we are going to put them on quiet waters.” I have always loved Psalm 23: He leads us beside quiet waters. So, I suggested Warriors & Quiet Waters. We took the name to a board meeting, and the vote was a unanimous yes.
You may be interested to know that, in the Vietnam era, people didn’t refer to service members as warriors. That usage came from the resurgence of the military beginning in the Reagan era and continued into the 1990s, when the word warrior was no longer a pejorative term. There was finally recognition that, to be a warrior, might take life-altering sacrifice. Military service became respectful and restorative.
In March 2007, we had the name, Warriors & Quiet Waters. I told the designer Mandy Messman at Classic Ink that the logo should identify several aspects of the foundation: the quiet waters, the evocation of Montana’s wildness and rivers, and the location of home in Montana.
I sent copies of a draft logo to all board members to get input, and finally, we had a logo that represented who we were.
The first piece of gear with the logo on it was a fishing shirt issued to warriors. It’s a tradition that continues to this day.