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Boat theft thwarts fishing trips for veterans

Whoever stole a 20-foot boat Friday probably didn’t know it was intended to take wounded veterans on free fishing trips, but the fact that the theft happened so close to Veterans Day increased the blow.

A 20-foot North River boat that was stolen from retired 7-Eleven executive Jeff Mason’s driveway in Washington state was to be used for free guided fishing trips through a non-profit he established called Fishing Trips For Heroes, according to KOMO News Channel 4.

Mason wants each trip to be a unique experience, taking just one veteran out at a time for a day on the river. His boat was also capable of taking wheelchair users.

Just the day before, Mason had met with officers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for final approval to offer the guided fishing trips. He was prepared to lead two free trips a week through the Wounded Warriors program. Fishing is one of the activities most requested by those who participate in the Wounded Warriors program, Mason said.

"Yeah, my boat's gone, but everything it was meant to provide was taken from them," Mason said.

Mason and his wife, Shari, will continue making Christmas wreaths to sell at a Christmas tree lot they will set up to help finance Fishing Trips for Heroes. Mason said the boat is insured and could be replaced, although he still hopes it will turn up. Either way, he plans to start taking vets out at the start of next year.

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