Veteran nearly finished restoring Vietnam-era patrol boat

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- Army veteran Robert Bowyer is restoring a Vietnam War-era patrol boat and is getting closer to finishing the job.

Bowyer started what he calls Operation Black Sheep last summer as a way to give back to Vietnam veterans who felt unwelcome when they returned home from the war.  He plans on giving veterans free rides on the boat as a way to bond, share stories and heal wounds.

After thousands of hours of work over the past 14 months, the boat is almost finished.  However, there are still a few things that need to be done.

"Electrical is our next big hurdle," Bowyer said.  "And Jacuzzis." Bowyer is hoping electricians or anyone who can help will reach out to him.

"We're getting to the point where I can't fabricate these parts anymore," he said. "I can't make electrical wiring. I have to start buying this stuff."

When complete, the 32-foot patrol boat will be fully operational and available for rentals.  It will have days set aside just for veterans.

"Next year you're going to have two of these boats in Muskegon in the water," Bowyer said. "That's going to put Muskegon on the map."

Bowyer says the project has evolved into something much bigger than he planned.  He has Iraq and Afghanistan veterans reaching out to him wanting to talk, so he's hoping to find a place they can call their 'headquarters' to set up shop and have a place to go to talk and share their stories.

For information on how you can get involved, visit Operation Black Sheep's website.

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