The Wounded Warrior Project returned to Kodiak last week for a tradition of bringing veterans to experience the Emerald Isle.
Veterans enjoyed seven days of sightseeing, ocean fishing and an all-terrain vehicle trip on Saltery Cove Road to go fly fishing.
The Wounded Warrior Project partners with several businesses and organizations such as the Lions Club and Elks Lodge, local fishermen and boat owners. The event has been ongoing since 2006.
The program is offered free of charge to injured service members and veterans through the organization’s Alumni program, according to Wounded Warrior.
Fishing licenses are paid for by the organization and the fish cleaning and processing are provided free of charge. Other activities have included hiking and bear-watching.
Army veteran Jeremiah Brewington called the excursion “a thousand percent amazing,” including a fishing trip that launched from St. Herman Harbor last Thursday.
Born and raised in Wasilla, the 17-year Army veteran said it was his first visit to Kodiak.
“It’s unbelievable and just indescribable, minus the tsunami warning the other night,” Brewington said. “Everything was amazing; we went fishing, went out to Saltery. It was just a blast.”
He said the ocean-fishing excursion topped his list of experiences. While some veterans trolled for halibut, Brewington was on a boat that went hunting for king salmon.
“It was pretty badass — great crew and deckhand,” Brewington said. “We slayed the kings today. We only kept six kings, but man did we get into them.”
Kodiak boat captain Clayton Skonsberg has supported the Wounded Warrior Project’s Kodiak excursions since its early days.
“It’s always fun to watch these guys fish, and for some of them it was the first kings they ever caught,” Skonsberg said. “It’s always a blast to watch them, and it’s the least we can do for them.”
Skonsberg said the number of veterans who take part has increased since the first event.
“In the first year it was just a handful of veterans that came up, and three or four of us got together to help someone,” Skonsberg said. “Since then the Wounded Warrior Project has gotten so big.”