The tiny seaside Alaska town of Seward is home to one of the largest annual fishing events for combat veterans. Four years ago two Alaskan business owners came together to establish a fishing tournament to honor the brave men and women who so proudly serve our nation. They decided to do this as a result of an event they witnessed in 2006 in Reno, Nevada. These two businessmen, Bob Candopolos, owner of Saltwater Safari and Keith Manternach, owner of Specialty Truck and & Auto, traveled to Reno for the annual Safari Club International convention. While visiting Reno, they witnessed an anti-war protest that not only infuriated them, but also made them realize that they needed to act to show support for our troops. Their plan was to take as many members of the Armed Services from the Alaskan military bases who had served either in Iraq or Afghanistan, deep-sea fishing in Seward. So, they teamed up with the Armed Services YMCA in Anchorage and the Armed Services Combat Fishing Tournament was born.
During the first year, the event planners contacted the American Legion Post 5 in Seward, to provide support and a base of operation for food and a place to gather after a day of fishing for an awards dinner. Post 5 eagerly supported this event by donating and preparing a huge feast for all participants. In this first year the boat captains took out 66 combat veterans for a full day of fishing, and now the event now has grown in size and popularity to make it the largest military appreciation fishing tournament in the United States. This year was the fouth time the tournament has occurred, and over 40 boat captains, many of whom are members of our local post, donated their time, boats and gear to take over 250 Alaska combat veterans deep water fishing in Alaska waters.