Minn. Guide Takes Veterans Fishing On New TV Show

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many people will take time this weekend to honor members of the military for Veterans Day.

One Minnesota fisherman is now helping them share their stories on a new TV show.

Bob Bray is never one to brag about his time in World War II. He urged his mom to sign him up at 17.

“It never was really that big of a thing that I did in the service,” Bray said.

He dodged shrapnel in one incident as a Navy electrician, and worked to land troops and supplies on shore.

Now, at the age of 91, Bray is sharing those stories — on a boat.

“Operation Fishing Freedom” will start airing on the Discovery Channel in January. Each episode features a different veteran recounting their stories of war, and life after.

“I didn’t pay much attention to the interview, I was too busy catching the fish!” Bray said.

take a vet fishing Minn. Guide Takes Veterans Fishing On New TV Show

Ben Olsen and John Hitchens (credit: CBS)

The episodes reel in the untold stories of war over the course of a two-day fishing trip.

Ben Olsen, the host and fishing guide, is committed to capturing the tales of his guests’ service and sacrifice. WCCO spoke with him via Skype, as he fished the Gulf of Mexico with John Hitchens, a Vietnam War Army medic from Minneapolis.

“[The veterans are] the stars of the show,” Olsen said. “We’re just really, really honored to share them.”

Hitchens discussed the disrespect he and his fellow veterans received after coming home from war.

“I tell you, today the opportunity to go out and catch a seven-foot shark, I just feel like, you know, I’ve been treated like royalty,” Hitchens said.

Olsen has watched vets open up on the water: from prisoners of war to present-day conflicts.

“Operation Fishing Freedom” will air Sunday at 7 a.m. on the Discovery Channel beginning in January.

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