They'll tell you they just got hurt doing their job. The job of putting themselves in harms way to protect our liberties at home or assisting those dreaming of freedom abroad. They're shy about being called heroes yet freeze at attention when the Colors parade by. They're our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads and whether they speak with a Texas drawl or a Brooklyn accent, come in wheel chairs or with prosthesis', they're all smiles when you see them fishing on the Kenai River. An experience made possible for them by the Kenai River Professional Guides Association and sponsors of the Wounded Warriors program. "The community has really stepped up again this year with donations so that these guys have a great time and we send them all away with door prizes and gift bags after a great weekend of fishing. This year we had troops from Ft Wainwright in Fairbanks, as well as Ft. Richardson in Anchorage, so really from all over Alaska. It's a unique event that makes us all feel good, but takes a lot of people getting involved. The guides donate their time and gear and the community puts them up for a night and we give them a banquet and barbeque and it makes it all worthwhile when you see the smiles on their faces. It's hard to keep the tears back because these guys are overwhelmed at the love and support that's shown them by our community", said Dave Goggia, president of the Guides Assoc.
The event this year was held June 7th and 8th and there were fish in the River. U.S. Army E-4 Kris Bergman of Arizona was on the Kenai River for the first time and had never caught a king salmon before. In an interview he told the Dispatch, "It was really nice to be out here we sure appreciate the Wounded Warrior program that puts this on it was a great experience. I actually didn't know I had a fish on, until the guide told me 'Hey you got a fish' then the adrenalin kicked in and I picked up the reel and fought it for what seemed like hours but was probably just a few minutes, but man were those ever a fun few minutes Sir," said Bergman. "When I signed up for duty I never thought that going fishing here would be part of that duty Sir, but I loved it and you can count on me coming back," he added.
According to Goggia 118 soldiers made it out on the Kenai this year and about 25 kings were brought in during the two days of fishing. "We hope to do it again next year but without our sponsors all this wouldn't be possible. Central Peninsula Hospital and Alaska State Elks lodge are just great supporters of this event and we truly appreciate them," said Goggia.