Story last updated at 5/13/2009 - 11:29 am
Several hundred Wounded Warriors and their families will be treated to an Alaskan seafood buffet and high flying honors next month in Olympia, Washington.
"We're going to have about 300 soldiers with their families, and we're going to give them some good Alaskan seafood. Then some war birds will do some static and a couple of fly-bys for the crowd, and World War II planes will fly in 'missing man formation' to honor the soldiers," said Mark Kandianis of Kodiak Fish Company, who has almost single-handedly rallied the tribute.
The Wounded Warrior seafood event, set for June 19, ties in with the annual air show sponsored by the Olympia Flight Museum. Kandianis said donations (tax deductible) of time, money and seafood are being volunteered by industry stakeholders and many others.
Kandianis said he got the idea after spending time with friends who flew helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I just thought it was a way to let these warriors know it's a worthy cause and we're still thinking of them and we haven't forgotten them," he said. "The TV coverage may have dwindled after the election, but these guys are still walking around with lost limbs and scars that reflect a lifetime of misery, and we want to let people know they didn't do this for nothing."
It's not the first time someone from Kodiak has rallied special recognition for the troops. For the past three years, dozens of wounded soldiers have been brought to the island for fishing trips, camping, four-wheeling and other outdoor recreation. Local businesses and residents and the Coast Guard have helped organize trips, and cover the costs for travel, hotel rooms, fish processing and other amenities. They also have made sure the soldiers were matched with special reels and gear for amputees, and boats with roomier sterns to accommodate wheelchairs. The Kenai River Sports Fishing Association has picked up the tab and purchased king stamps for the veterans visiting Kodiak.
All of the wounded soldiers invited to next month's Alaska seafood bash hail from the Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis.
"Down the road if we can raise enough money, it will go into the Madigan Foundation," Kandianis said. The Madigan Foundation supports many veterans' projects, including the Remote Warrior Care Program, which enables wounded or ill soldiers to be treated in their hometowns.
"Without this funding many of the wounded, injured and ill soldiers would not be able to afford the costs associated with their recuperating at home," said Washington Senator Patty Murray in a letter of support for the Foundation. Sen. Murray's father is a decorated World War II veteran.
While the Alaska seafood tribute will only last one day, Kandianis said the effects will be felt long after.
"You know, the political mission goes on, but these are the guys who stand up and actually take it to them. People talk about supporting the troops, and this is a way to actually show that we care about them and their sacrifice."
The Wounded Warrior Alaska seafood event is set for June 19 at the Washington State Patrol Aviation Section Hangar. Anyone donating $500 could win a flight in a restored 1942 World War II Navy trainer. Send contributions to the Wounded Warrior Event, Madigan Foundation, Box 97215, Lakewood, WA 98497. Questions? Contact Mark Kandianis at email@example.com or (360)201-0757. For details bout Kodiak's wounded warrior program, contact Peter Malley at (907) 486-8252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fishing NO. 1 dangerous job
On the job fatalities in the U.S. last year dipped 6 percent to 5,488 (or 3.7 per 100,000 workers). That's the lowest fatality rate since the government started tracking track those statistics in 1992. While improved safety standards get some of the credit, the decline in deaths was also due to job losses nationwide, especially in the construction and manufacturing industries.
Commercial fishing continued to top the list of dangerous jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Census of Fatal Occupation Injuries report (http://news.alibaba.com/article/list/1/report.html). Thirty-eight fishermen (112 out of 100,000 - down from 115 the previous year) met their Maker on the job last year, mostly off the coasts of Alaska and Maine. The "deadliest catch," however, is the West Coast Dungeness crab fishery with 17 on the job deaths.
Alaska has had the biggest improvement in fishing safety than any other place in the country. Fishing fatalities have plunged from nearly 40 per year in the early 1980's to an average of 11 in recent years, according to the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association.
Logging held on to the No. 2 spot for dangerous jobs, with 87 deaths per 100,000 employees. Rounding out the top five are aircraft pilots and flight engineers (67 deaths per 100,000); iron and steel workers (45/100,000); and farmers and ranchers (38 per 100,000).
Alaska's 2009 salmon season "officially" opens on May 14 with the first opener for kings and reds at Copper River. No fewer than three TV news crews are set to be on the grounds to cover the first catches of the famous fish.
Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska's seafood industry since 1988. Her weekly Fish Factor column appears in a dozen newspapers and web outlets. Her daily Fish Radio programs air on 27 stations around Alaska. Welch lives in Kodiak.