Duck boat business about to go under
MANCHESTER - Candia veteran Viktor Nafranowicz's vision to honor American veterans still rings clear, but the duck boat he bought is now on the auction block and he is precariously close to bankruptcy.
The Army veteran desperately seeks a sponsor to support his dream to 'try to raise awareness of what our troops go through to protect our freedom overseas' through the duck boat tours he hoped to launch last year.
'If I had a sponsor to have a small advertising display on the side of that boat to support this venture, I would be OK,' said Nafranowicz, 51,who called the six-ton amphibious vessel a '31-foot rolling billboard.'
Nafranowicz bought the World War II-era vessel 20 months ago and invested more than $100,000 of his own money to get it in touring condition. The plan was to run tours in Manchester to promote veterans.
He said he ran several promotional tours last July while he waited for the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to issue him his business license. By time he received the license three weeks later, Nafranowicz said he had run out of money and needed a corporate sponsor to keep the venture going.
Now the duck boat is for sale on eBay with an asking price of $90,000.
Nafranowicz said he is disappointed the American Legion did not support his cause and criticized it for not making efforts to recruit veterans from the Iraq and Afghan wars.
'They are disconnected with the modern military and the modern soldier. Why would a modern soldier bring their family into an environment like that? They're a bar,' said Nafranowicz, who served as an advanced field medic at Fort Campbell, Ky. from 1976 through 1980.
Henry J. Sweeney Post American Legion Post 2 administrative officer and former commander Michael Lopez said the American Legion 'went out of its way' to assist Nafranowicz and that he personally helped Nafranowicz navigate the legal process to obtain his business license.
'I've done everything in my total power other than to give him money, which I don't have, to sponsor him,' said Lopez, a former at-large alderman.
'Unfortunately, he got into a business proposition and it's not the intent of the American Legion to get him out of the financial situation that he found himself in,' Lopez said.
'But I must commend him - he has his heart and soul in helping veterans. I can't say anything against that, but financially I never thought it would work.'
Lopez disputed Nafranowicz's claim that the American Legion is disconnected from modern veterans.
'We do everything in our power to recruit membership,' he said. The Sweeney post is the state's largest with about 1,300 members, about 100 of whom are Iraq and Afghan war veterans, Lopez said.