Seward thanks service members with a day of fishing Published June 2, 2016 By John Pennell U.S. Army Alaska Public Affairs SEWARD, Alaska -- Residents of this small fishing town opened their hearts and wallets last week for service members stationed in Alaska, continuing a tradition that organizers call the largest thank you of its kind in any of the United States. The 10th Annual Armed Services Combat Fishing Tournament, May 26, hosted by the city of Seward and the Alaska Armed Services YMCA, gave more than 200 military anglers stationed in Alaska a free day of halibut fishing and more to thank them for their service. After a long day hauling 'buts from the depths of Resurrection Bay, the military anglers were treated to free fish filleting and packaging, followed by a banquet set up by even more volunteers where they received free food and drinks, entertainment by Alaska legend Hobo Jim and tons of door prizes. The tournament began in 2006 as the brain child of Keith Manternach and has grown from 60 anglers the first year to the modern production which harnesses fund-raising efforts by the ASYMCA and the donation of much time and effort from local charter boat captains and crews and shopkeepers in the Seward community. Buddy Whitt, executive director of the Alaska ASYMCA, estimated that over the past 10 years the 2,000-plus military anglers have cached more than 19,000 pounds of fish while the event has given more than $215,000 in cash prizes and $300,000 in door prizes to the competitors. This year alone, 21 fishing boats from 15 charter services donated their time, equipment and expertise to the cause.