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Fishing is therapy for Purple Heart recipient

TJ and Pat with a nice Amberjack.
TJ and Pat with a nice Amberjack.
Jeff Brown

It all started off innocently enough. Retired Sgt. Major Pat Cocoran placed a call to Capt. Jeff Brown to set up a fishing trip. Pat’s 17-year old son, TJ, was out of school for the summer and Pat wanted to take him deep sea fishing. The date was set and the charter was booked. Everything was looking great for Pat and TJ when things turned even better.

Jeff Brown (R), Pat Cocoran (C) TJ Cocoran
Ron Presley

“We set up the charter,” commented Pat, “but within about 24 hours Jeff called me back and said that he was a law enforcement guy and hand done some checking on my background.” Not knowing what to expect next, Pat waited for the next response. “He told me that he found out I was an army wounded warrior and our trip would be for free.”

Jeff explained, “All he wanted to do was charter a boat and spend the day out with his son. I told him, no charters here buddy, you already paid enough in your service to our country.”

Jeff described the day as a great success. “We headed offshore with Pat and TJ. We caught some live bait, ran out to 8A and threw out some kingfish rigs. About 20 minutes later we had a nice kingfish on. The bite slowed down so we decided to go down deeper and work the bottom. The result was a good variety of fish. Amberjack, vermillion snapper, porgies and sharks, all came to the boat. We caught a lot of good fish and had a really good time.”

Pat agreed with Capt. Jeff’s assessment. “From the time we met up in the morning and caught a ton of bait, we never went 15 minutes to a half-hour without being hooked up. The fish were splashing and thrashing, we had a great time. There is no doubt about it, Capt. Jeff put us on the fish and a variety of em’. Now we are taking a pile of fillets home for the dinner table. We had a superb experience.”

TJ had high praise for the day as well. “I am just happy to come out and I’m really happy to see my dad catch fish. When he hooks a fish it’s not ‘fish on’ or ‘I got one’, he says ‘Son, oh my God.’ He said it over and over today. Every time I get to go out fishing with my dad it is a special day, whether we catch fish or not. I have enjoyed the experience and made memories that will last for a long time.”

TJ continued saying, “I just like to enjoy what Mother Nature has to give. It doesn’t matter if we catch fish, or get skunked, its just fun.” He is a proponent of the old saying that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work. “It is really true for me,” He says. His love for the outdoors also came through with his proclamation that he hopes to be an FWC Wildlife Officer someday.

Pat has actually served in combat a couple of times, but it was 2009 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan that he was injured. “It was Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom,” says Pat. “My injury came in an ambush. I was left paralyzed below the waist. I am lucky and happy to be here. A lot of people made it out a lot worse than I did and there were scores of others that did not come back. I live everyday like it is the last.”

Pat praised Jeff for his altruism. “I think what Jeff is doing, reaching out to folks that have served our country overseas, and those who are serving here stateside as public servants is about as patriotic as it gets. My hat is off to Jeff and others who do what he does. We had a great time and will look forward to doing it again.”

People that know Jeff were not surprised by his gesture. Given his law enforcement background there is a special place in his heart for patriots that sacrifice for their country so others can be better off. He has even taken his passion to the TV screen in an outdoors show that honors those that serve, including public servants that we know as first responders.

The TV show is a joint effort by Jeff, his wife Pam and other family members. “We started talking about how great it would be to reward people who do so much and yet want nothing in return,” said Jeff. “That was the whole notion behind the show.” In its first year Copout Outdoor Adventures, on the World Fishing Network, introduced several great role models to the world and the second season is destined to offer more. Society can only be better for it.

Pat identified the highlight of the trip as a situation where he was setting in his wheelchair facing west and there was a fishing rod behind him facing east. “The line was just stripping off the reel. All I remember hearing was a buzz as the drag screamed under the intense bite. The buzz continued until TJ could make his way to that rod and start the fight. We actually experienced that highlight about 3 different times during the day. It was high drama and constant action. It was therapy for my sole,” said the Purple Heart recipient.

Afterword: If you have an interest in helping Jeff and Pam in their efforts to reward deserving individuals please visit their website where you can donate to the cause. It is also on the site at that you can nominate a deserving person to participate in an adventure of a lifetime. Jeff can be reached by phone at 407-810-3474.

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