‘Wicked Tuna’: Here’s How Wounded Veterans Were Honored on the Show

by Amy Myers

For some captains on Wicked Tuna, the crewmembers aren’t the only ones to climb aboard the massive vessels. When he isn’t competing against fellow commercial captains, Dave Marciano and his ship, Hard Merchandise, take combat service members on the water. In partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project, Marciano offers a bit of escape and excitement for active-duty service members and veterans by showing them what a day on the Massachusetts waves is like.

Marciano has been offering rides to wounded warriors since his second season on the show. Since then, the Hard Merchandise captain has increased the number of trips he does for WWP because of the high demand. This season, Marciano was equally as excited for other Wicked Tuna captains to join the effort. So, in late May, National Geographic dedicated an episode of the popular reality show to our national heroes.

Along with Marciano, Captains T.J. Ott of Hot Tuna and Bob Cook of Fat Tuna hosted a few wounded warriors. Meanwhile, Captains Paul Herbert and Dave Carraro had a veteran couple on board. The husband and wife met in Afghanistan during their tour and now competed head-to-head on rival ships.

While the two crews were surely thankful to have such hardworking people on board, the trips are just as beneficial for the service members. One veteran, Jeffrey Nunez, commented on how his time on Hard Merchandise helped him heal from his mental injuries if only for a moment. Nunez served in the Marine Corps for five years and suffers from PTSD. His trip on Wicked Tuna was his first experience with deep-sea fishing.

“Being a veteran, your mind is always cluttered or always on guard,” Nunez shared with Military Times. “Being able to clear that clutter up and just be there in the moment and the thrill of actually catching a fish…it’s just a great feeling.”

‘Wicked Tuna’ Captains Show Service Members a Taste of Life on the Atlantic

Normally, when Marciano leads charter trips for guests, he lets them sit back and let the crew do all the hard work. However, with Nunez on board, there was no telling these temporary crew members to sit back and relax. Nunez wanted to be where the action was, and Marciano was happy to oblige.

“Jeff did what we do when it’s just me and the kids,” Marciano said. “We try to make [the boat] our home for a few days…Some people have no desire to do something like that.”

Nunez was equally as excited to be a part of the process.

“I really felt like I was part of the crew,” the veteran shared. “It was so welcoming. I embraced it.”

As long as Marciano continues his commitment to giving back to veterans, Wicked Tuna‘s WWP trips will likely become a tradition.

“It’s simple for us to take people fishing, but [the veterans] always seem to appreciate it so much,” the captain said. “It’s an opportunity to give back a little bit what’s been given freely to me.”