You may have noticed Newschannel 7 anchor and reporter Kristen Berset has been conspicuously absent from our airwaves for a little over a week. Kristen is on a special assignment. She's gone fishing.....in Baghdad...Iraq.
But before she went, she decided to do a good deed for her news fishing buddies....some of our soldiers serving in both Iraq and Kuwait.
"When I was first asked to help run a fishing tournament for the troops in Baghdad I enlisted the help of Tommy Putnam, the owner of Half Hitch Tackle in Panama City Beach so I could give the soldiers some gifts from home."
"When ya'll contacted me that ya'll were going I picked up the phone and made 3 phone calls and we got overwhelming support from those 3 and decided we couldn't take anymore than those three."
“Operation: Catch Fish” is the first-ever official fishing tournament for members of the U.S. Armed Forces deployed overseas. Fishing is a popular form of recreation for troops stationed near the lakes and ponds scattered throughout the middle east.
"We all know that fishing is the number 1 family sport to do cause everybody in the family can do it and so it is a big family time and know that most of those guys over there would be doing it with their kids or friends or buddies if they were home and for them to be able to do it over there I'm sure is a great experience for them."
Over 250 soldiers from different branches of the military are expected to participate. So Tommy called on his three biggest vendors to help.
"Everyone was real receptive to the idea. They wanted to send whatever they could cause it's a real positive thing. The guys over there are protecting us all and it's good we show we appreciate them."
In a week and a half Tommy filled two huge bags with t-shirts and hats from Calcutta, bags and fishing line from Berkely and lures and hooks from True Turn.
"They're making and may end up making the ultimate sacrifice and so it's real important for them to know we do appreciate what they're doing."
Kristen e-mailed us Friday, saying she'd been to lots of U-S bases in Iraq. About 250-soldiers took part in the fishing tournament this past weekend.
She should be back home the middle of this week, and we look forward to her special report on her trip, later this month.