I was a sophomore in high school when this event happened. I read about it years later. In 1974, at a BA.S.S. event at Beaver lake in Arkansas, Billy Westmoreland saved the lives of Johnny Morris and his partner Bob Craddok. A tornado came through the area, creating dangerous conditions. Johnny Morris sunk his boat in this storm. The two men, ( Morris and Craddok,) were hanging on to a 6 gallon gas can. Both men were experiencing the early stages of hypothermia, and were praying out loud. Westmoreland spotted the gas can from the dock. Westmoreland told Ray Scott, " I think someone's in trouble out there". He took off, almost sinking his own boat in the waves and wind. When he got close he found Morris barely hanging on to the can, and Craddok with his arms around Morris's neck. Morris later recalled, "Craddok started laughing, and a large arm reached down, first separating us,
then pulling us to safety". Billy Westmoreland later recalled" my boat was set up with dual bilge pumps. If not for that, we'd have been in big trouble".
Two years later in 1976, Billy Westmoreland would author his famous book, Them Old Brown Fish, still considered a must read on the topic of smallmouth bass. Johnny Morris was forever grateful, after founding Bass Pro Shops, giving Billy Westmoreland two new boats each year, and all the tackle he needed. Billy Westmoreland had saved his life. Aside from being considered one of the greatest anglers in our sport, Billy Westmoreland was a lifesaver too. The big man from Tennessee, and one of my heroes.