Mission Possible

Naples Take a Soldier Fishing

Article by Samantha Bloom

Photography by Collier County Sheriff Office

Originally published in Naples City Lifestyle

 Naples Take a Soldier Fishing is a local charity designed to show gratitude to active and veteran American military heroes through entertainment and acts of appreciation. They host annually a weekend-long morale-boosting celebration to show the men and women in uniform that they are honored for their sacrifices.

The program began 15 years ago with a handful of boats out of the Goodland Bay marina. Today annually 150 active military troops (most of whom are special operations) are celebrated on a fleet of donated charters, with a kick-off of patriotic proportions at Hamilton Harbor. The NTASF leadership, Steve and Jamie Loyd, are a driving force and work tirelessly all year to make this celebration happen.

“We believe we are the most patriotic community in the United States!” says acting chief Rich Hampton of the Collier County Sheriff's Office and United States AirForce veteran. “The irony for us as volunteers is we are doing our best to show these warriors our thanks with the gifts of 5-star lodging, meals, and experience, they can’t thank us enough. The looks on their faces when they arrive in the lobby, when we greet them at the check-in…throughout the whole weekend, they are the most grateful people you will EVER meet! When you see a 19-year-old young man fresh out of Ranger experience see the community's gratitude…it simply moves you!” 

The military participants are paired with a boat captain who is their guide for the trip. With two divisions, offshore and backwater, soldiers are exposed to competitive and professional waterways. The fishing tournament kicks off with the national anthem, blessing of the fleet, and a spectacular aerial flyover by the Collier County Sheriff. This signifies the start of the friendly competition of this special annual invitation-only fishing tournament for our troops. Later, the exciting live weigh-in begins with fishing champions crowned. Each day of the weekend is an opportunity for fun in the local Naples area, our troops leave Florida renewed in spirit and mentality.

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