Monday, April 11, 2016

10th Annual PHWFF 2-Fly Tournament: Participants Announced


The 10th Annual 2-fly Tournament will be a special celebration of our past decade of service and an opportunity to further forge our mark on the decades to come; providing our unique form of therapy to the countless deserving men and women who have served, and sacrificed for our nation As such, the 10th Annual 2-Fly Tournament Participants will be PHWFF 2-Fly Alumni from the past decade who have been immersed and strengthened by our healing waters.

CPT (ret.) Rob Burke US Army | Iraq/Afghanistan 

2nd Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni  
 CPT Rob Burke grew up in Rochester, New York and joined the Army after College in 2005. He commissioned as an Infantry Officer and after completing Airborne and Ranger school was assigned Fort Drum, NY. CPT Burke deployed to Iraq in 2007 as a Platoon Leader with Charlie Company, 1-87INF, 10th Mountain. His Unit was stationed at an outlying Patrol Base in Northern Iraq. On the 2nd of February 2008, while conducting a night raid, Rob suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his leg, torso, and shoulder. Captain Burke spent 11 months undergoing intensive physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the West Point Warrior Transition Unit. CPT Burke was able to recover well enough to return to his unit and complete a deployment to Northern Afghanistan from 2010-2011. He is currently assigned to the Syracuse Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPS) in Syracuse, NY. CPT Burke has volunteered as the Program Leader for the PHWFF Chapter at Fort Drum, NY since 2009. His awards include the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star Medal (2), the Purple Heart Medal, Ranger Tab and numerous others.

J.R. Salzman US Army National Guard | Iraq 
1st Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni 

TSGT (ret.) Shaun Meadows US Air Force | Afghanistan  

3rd Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni    
Shaun Meadows was raised in Athens Georgia. I am married to Nicole Meadows raised in Kansas City, Kansas. I have one son Trevor Meadows age 6. Enlisted in the Air Force in May 2002 as a combat controller. Have been stationed at Hurlburt Field FL and McChord AFB WA where I am currently assigned rank E-6.  Became a trans-femoral bilateral amputee while serving in southern Afghanistan on Jul 31 2008 due to a pressure plate IED. Currently in the process of my medical retirement from the military. While doing rehab at WRAMC was introduced to fly fishing by Project healing waters and have been fly fishing ever since.

SGT (ret.) Keith Gilbert US Army | Iraq  
4th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni    
I was born and raised in Gainesville, Georgia. I joined the Army in September 2006 as a Cavalry Scout. After completing Airborne School, I was stationed in the 1st Squadron, 40th Calvary Regiment, 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Richardson, Alaska. I deployed to Iraq from September 2006 until November 2007. During this deployment we did reconnaissance patrols thru Baghdad. I was involved in many fire fights, IED's, and VBIED'S. I received multiple injuries, and my Squadron took many casualties. After returning to Alaska, I went to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Reconnaissance Company, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I deployed back to Iraq from November 2008 until November 2009.
 After returning from my second deployment I was tested for PTSD and TBI. After being tested I was sent to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC. I was a patient there from March until November 2010. While there I became very depressed and had given up on just about everything. I was going down the wrong road and became a lonely alcoholic. I stayed in my room and had no social life or friends.
I guess you could say that I stumbled upon Project Healing Waters. One day I was walking through Walter Reed Medical Center and saw some people out front casting fly rods. I stopped to watch and the next thing I know, they had a rod in my hand and was showing me how to cast. After just one day casting, I was hooked! It was the people as much as the fishing that I liked. The volunteers were never pushy and I could tell that they really cared about us and about fly fishing. I finally had something to look forwards to each week, and something to think about besides all the bad thoughts brought on by my PTSD.
 The casting practice and the fly tying helped me with my TBI by challenging me to use my hands and improving my damaged motor skills. I started going on local fishing trips and that got me to go back out in public and to step out of my comfort zone. The camaraderie with the volunteers and other soldiers in the program was something that I needed, but something that the hospital couldn't prescribe. Project Healing Waters took me from being someone who would not go anywhere during the day, to spending ten days in Kodiak, Alaska.
 I then spent two years at Ft. Gordon in Augusta, Georgia waiting for my Medical Retirement. From there I spent four months in the Augusta VA's Polytrama Unit. I had not been fishing during this time and I was on seventeen prescriptions. Once I returned home, I couldn't wait to get back to fishing. I contacted my closest Project Healing Water volunteer and we have been fishing ever since. Since I have started back fishing, I currently take no medications. If I’m not fishing, I am tying flies. Fly fishing is my coping skill that I use to deal with life and my injuries.
 After experiencing what Project Healing Waters and fly fishing has done for me, all I want to do is give back. I am helping to start up a Project Healing Waters chapter in the Oakwood VA in Oakwood, Georgia. I am also guiding on local streams and rivers. I am part of The Goodwill Guides, which is a non profit organization that offers to take disabled veterans and teach them how to tournament fly fish and how to be a guide. So we are not only teaching them the joy and healing that fly fishing can bring, but also give them the knowledge and gear so they can continue to fish once there back at home. And I hope that they will have the burning desire that I have, to help get disabled veterans on the water with a fly rod in their hands!

Technical Sergeant (ret.) Chris Frost US Air Force | Iraq 
5th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni    
Sergeant Frost grew up in Campbell, California and, after college at CSU Chico, joined the US Air Force in 1996. He was trained as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialist and has had assignments in Utah, California, Korea and England. Sergeant Frost deployed as the Team Leader for Weapons Intelligence Team One in 2007, his team had the responsibilities for sensitive site exploitation, post-blast investigation, forensic evidence collection and counter IED intelligence. On 18 May 2008, while on a combat mission, Sergeant Frost's vehicle was struck by a large deep-buried IED resulting in Sergeant Frost losing both legs below the knee, additionally there was one soldier killed and two others who required amputations. Sent to Walter Reed for medical care, he met his future wife, Catherine, an Army soldier who was battling the effects of pancreatic cancer. In March 2009 Sergeant Frost re-enlisted in the US Air Force for six more years. He lives with his wife, who is now retired from the Army, in Alexandria VA and serves with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight in the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron at Andrews AFB, MD. His awards include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, The Air Force Combat Action Medal and numerous others.

SGT (ret.) Larry Fivecoats US Army | Vietnam  
6th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni  
I joined the Army as Airborne Infantry fall of 1965, and upon completion of Army Airborne School I was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade for a tour of duty in Viet Nam March 66-67 with the 1st Battalion 503 Infantry. My tour of Vietnam included operations Rolling Thunder, Aurora, Junction City, War Zone D, and Hobo Woods. Next duty assignment was to the 101st Airborne at Ft Campbell, KY.  In the fall of '67 the 101st deployed as a full unit to Viet Nam. I was asked to return with the unit to Viet Nam to help with training and guidance, but I declined.  I joined the 82nd Airborne at Ft Bragg NC in ’68. I then re-enlisted in December '69, joining the Special Forces school at Ft Bragg, NC.  In February of that year I was injured during a training jump and spent 6 months in and out but attached to Womack Army Hospital on base and released from duty and the Army in September '69.  
I got involved with PHWFF program in Denver, CO a little over a year ago and have been mentored by PHWFF volunteer Bob Province. I’ve learned to tie flies and build fly rods through their weekly meetings and have attended many of their fishing outings. This program means the world to me and has helped me out in so many ways!

SSG (ret.) Rhonda Burleson US Army | Afghanistan  
7th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni      
My family has been in Western North Carolina for many generations. I am Rhonda Christine Burleson, daughter of Carl Donald Burleson, General Manager Of Biltmore Estate, deceased, and Kay, homemaker. I joined the Army in 1983 as a Military Policeman & Corrections. Stationed in Kansas, Korea, and Kandahar. Also in Boone, North Carolina as a National Guard Recruiter. I have 2 AS degrees and a BS in Health and Wellness. Army Achievements - SWAT, developed 1st minimum security facility for female military offenders, NBC NCO, RRT, and Enemy Prisoner of War Guard, Kandahar 2002. Was activated Christmas Eve 2001. Living in hometown of Asheville, North Carolina since returning from war.

Capt Kimberly Ramona Smith USMC | Afghanistan 
8th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni   
Kim was born in Granada Hills, CA.  Since the age of 10, her dream was to follow in her Father’s footsteps and become a U.S. Marine.  Her Father passed away when she was 10 and had served in the Korean War, becoming a POW and earning a Purple Heart.  Her Brother James enlisted in the Marine Corps and graduated boot camp from MCRD San Diego when she was 12.
Kim graduated from Douglas High School, Minden NV in 2000.  Her step-father, who would become the closest thing to a father, was also a former Marine Corporal Infantry Rifleman and taught Kim over the years military skills and weaponry.  Growing up Kim enjoyed the outdoors, camping, and fishing.  She also loved hunting, ranch work, played varsity sports, and loved volunteer work. 
Capt Kimberly Ramona Smith graduated from Texas A&M University in 2004 and commissioned in the United States Marine Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant. While attending Texas A&M, she was a varsity rugby athlete and held a 40hr/wk job.  Kim graduated with a BS in Kinesiology and Nutrition.  Kim also was selected for and played rugby for the U.S. Team from 2000-2006.
She was assigned to Camp Pendleton, CA 1st Marine Division. In 2008, she was transferred to HQBN, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, CA.  She was assigned as the 2nd Platoon Commander, Truck Company Bravo and assigned to 1st Battalion 5th Marines as the Motor Transport Officer and Platoon Commander.  In 2009, she was the first female to be deployed with an Infantry Battalion.  May 2009-Jan 2010 1stLt Smith was deployed with 1st Battalion 5th Marines to Helmand Provence Afghanistan, Operation Kanjar. 
After returning from her deployment she became the Executive Officer of Truck Bravo in 2010. June 2010 she was frocked to Captain and was assigned as the Company Commander of Truck Company Alpha.  At this time she was sent to the MACE where she became a Black Belt Martial Arts Instructor. In May 2011, she was selected to be the Battalions Operations Officers for HQBN, 1st Marine Division.  During this time, she was sent to MCTOG 29 Palms, CA where she graduated from TMIC.  She finished her tour in 2011, and was selected to attend Combined Captain’s Career Course Joint School in Fort Lee, VA.  Graduating with honors and the top physical fitness award, she was selected for the billet of MCMAP Black Belt Instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  While at the Naval Academy she was a Professor for the Leadership Ethics and Law Division, Coach for the Women’s Rugby Team and completed jump school in Fort Benning, GA.
Her goal is to one day be a permanent volunteer with Project Healing Waters, and an Assistant Service Dog Trainer for K-9 Navigators when she medically retires.  Capt Smith has found her motivation for healing through fly-fishing, fly tying, poetry, painting, and most of all her support at home and service dog Shian. 
I would like to thank all who give there time to help wounded warriors like myself.  You make an immeasurable difference in our lives and often make the most unbearable days far more manageable.  PHWFF has saved my life.  That’s why I want to do everything I can to give back even though I’m still in recovery myself. I believe in this program, because it believes in its Warriors. 
God Bless and Semper Fi - Captain Kimberly Smith and Service Dog Shian USMC  

CPT (ret.) Alvin Shell US Army | Iraq  
9th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni   
Alvin Shell and his Wife Danielle are Fredericksburg Virginia residents and the parents of three sons.  Sean is a student at Cornell University, Alvin III is a student at Riverbend High School, and Jachin is a student at Smith Station Elementary School. Danielle is an accomplished Chef at the Courtyard Marriot in Fredericksburg Virginia.  Alvin is a Physical Security Specialist  for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC and enjoys volunteering his time with nonprofit organizations like the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2)   and Tempered Steel. Alvin was featured in the Grateful Nation TV show ( last year and has been featured in in two books ( & and multiple articles to include a front page article in the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star ( which told about President Obama lauding Alvin’s accomplishments in Iraq.

Alvin is a 100% disabled veteran that sustained multiple injuries in 2004 while rescuing a fellow soldier during an ambush in Iraq. Alvin began his Army career as an enlisted soldier then was later commissioned through Officer Candidate School to become an Airborne Officer in Ft Bragg NC. Alvin was medically retired at the rank of Captain. Despite his injuries Alvin ran the Army 10miler in 2014 and finished a triathlon in 2012. As the son of a mother (Mable Shell) who was a school teacher and a father (Alvin Shell) who was a law enforcement officer, he learned the value of a strong work ethic at a very early age. Alvin attributes every accomplishment in his life to his faith, his parents and the values they instilled in him. He has always had a love for the outdoors but only fell in love with fly fishing three years ago during a trip to Idaho. Alvin later joined the Ft Belvoir program of Project Healing Waters which fostered a better understanding of the sport and the addiction was born.

SSG (ret.) George Draper US Army  
6th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni  
I was born in Maine and grew up in a little town called Greene. I served in the Army 1977-1984. I was stationed at Ft. Devens, MA with the 39th Combat Engineers, I went to Germany to the 317th Combat Eng. then Ft Campbell, KY to the 20th Combat Eng. I went through the 101st Airborne Air Assault School and then I took the Repel Master course. I had an accident when repelling from the helicopter which was the beginning of my spinal cord injuries. Went through a four lower back and one neck surgeries. Then I was involved in a vehicle accident in 2005 on my way to the VA for an appointment. Had three more major surgeries which left me very limited to what I could do for myself. I was in a dark place in my life and I needed something to make me feel useful and give me a purpose in life.
In March of 2007, I found out about PHWFF through my pain clinic group at my VA hospital. PHWFF has been a Godsend and has been the answer to my prayers. It takes my mind off my pain and gives me a place to be with other Veterans. I can't begin to describe the excitement of catching a fish. You forget about everything around you. Your brain gets a break from that constant pain. The more this happens the less the pain is eating at you. I'm so grateful that I can start giving back to an organization that has given so much to me and so many other Veterans. Veterans helping Veterans!  A new world opened for me. I went from never leaving the house or yard to being so busy can't find enough time to do everything I've learned. What a great thing to have and to share with others. I really enjoy helping anyone that want to learn tying a fly or building a fly rod. I'm now in a position where I can give back to the program. It feels great to be useful and productive. There isn't anything like this program out there that helps any disabled veterans. These fishing trip have been so rewarding for me. To say thank you doesn't seem to be enough for me. I'm forever so grateful for the eye opening experiences that PHWFF has given me. It has totally changed my life and continues to do so each new day. The healing power of a fish tugging your line. With the fellowship of other disabled Veterans. The lifelong friendships of the volunteers that keep the program going. All the magnificent places and wonderful views that are just amazing to see while fly fishing.

SFC (ret.) Brian Mancini US Army | Iraq  
3rd Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni  
In 1998, Brian Mancini enlisted in the United States Army where he began his Army Medical Career as a ground ambulance driver with the 1st Calvary Division, Ft. Hood, TX. From 2001 to 2002, Brian served as a flight medic assigned to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras. He provided emergency medical evacuation support throughout Central and South America.
From 2002-2005, he worked as a medical Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in support of the Soldier Readiness and Processing Center at Ft. Hood, TX preparing and assisting soldiers to deploy into theatres of combat operations. From 2005-2006, he was the Medical Section NCO for the Arizona National Guard 860th Military Police Company in Baghdad, Iraq. In 2007, Brian served as the NCO in charge of a Battalion Aid Station with the 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, KS and Baghdad, Iraq and as a Medical Treatment Squad Leader for the 1st Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Medical Team at Fort Riley, KS.
In July of 2007, Brian sustained extensive injuries during combat operations in Iraq. While recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he was heavily influenced by outdoor recreational therapy through Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.
In 2009, he worked with the Potomac Workforce Education and Reintegration Program helping wounded Veterans transition out of the military into government jobs at Indian Head Naval Facility, MD. In April of 2011, Brian was medically retired from the United States Army. Brian was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Combat Action Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Air Assault Badge, Flight Medic Badge, and the Army Commendation Medal with Valor.
In 2012, Brian co-founded the Honor House, an organization whose mission is to provide a complete transitional package that utilizes the resources from the community to meet the therapeutic an transitional challenges of our Veterans affected by combat.
Through Honor House, he works to create awareness, advocating the needs of our returning Veterans and this generation's combat experience and transitional challenges. Speeches include the Arizona Governor's Council on Wounded Warrior Care, The Military Order of the World Wars, The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Behavioral Health Clinicians from Maricopa County, Phoenix Police Department, Arizona Faith-Based Council and numerous other agencies and businesses. He assisted the Phoenix Fire Department in development of a training video for first responders.
His media outreach includes documenting his transitional journey and his vision for Honor House on "Shift Happens by Jonas Elrod," aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network and "Operation Proper Exit" a documentary aired on 60 Minutes. He was featured in the film "Healing Waters" by SJ Hasty Creative Media. Brian has been interviewed for local newspapers and radio and was featured in an article in Reader's Digest "Combat Support" by Monica Soladay.
Brian is a founding member of the R4 Alliance, national organization working to ensure that Alternative and Complementary Medicine providers serving our Veterans meet set criteria of excellence. He was recognized by the City of Phoenix when asked to represent our returning Veterans as one of the Grand Marshall's for The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade.

SSG (ret.) Robert Bartlett US Army | Iraq 
1st Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni 
Robert joined the Army from his home is Arizona at the age of thirty and added his name to a long list of ancestors who fought for this country, starting at Valley Forge, Civil War, to grandparents in WWII, and his father a Vietnam veteran.
Robert would serve his county as a Cavalry Scout Sniper with 3rd Infantry Division and would deploy to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The six month into deployment during a scouting mission, Robert’s Humvee would be hit by an IED. The shrapnel would penetrate his door next to his face and head. He would receive severe trauma to his face and hands. Due to his injuries he would face death three times, 40+ surgeries over a four year period at Walter Reed .During his service he would receive various awards to include Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, from the military, and recognition  awards from Brain Injury association, Lockheed Martin, and the American Legion. During his time at Walter Reed he would work with Pentagon officials on various issues, from injured Military personnel obstacles, to problems in battle space operations.
 A long with public speaking and working with Non-profits he has moved to Virginia in the start of a new life, career, and College. He continues today to work alongside Project Healing Waters to recruit and share his experiences with those around him.

CPT (ret.) Eivind O. Forseth US Army | Iraq  
1st Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni  
Captain Eivind O. Forseth, USA Retired, was born and raised in Billings, Montana. He is the son of Eivind B. and Judith Forseth of Columbus, Montana, and brother of Larissa Forseth of Billings, Montana.
CPT Forseth is a 1992 Billings West High School graduate. After two semesters at Montana State University - Billings, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1993. After Basic Training and Airborne School, he served an extended European tour in Germany from 1994 to 1998, while assigned to the 1st Armored Division as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle gunner and Squad Leader. This assignment included a 12-month tour in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in support of Operation Joint Endeavor from 1995 to 1996.
CPT Forseth separated from the Army in 1998 as a Sergeant and earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Riverside, in 2002. In 2003, he reenlisted and was commissioned upon graduation from Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He completed the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Ranger School and was assigned to D Company, 2/325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division as a Platoon Leader. The White Falcons deployed to Iraq in December of 2004, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On January 4, 2005, in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, CPT Forseth and his gunner were severely wounded as a result of a blast from an Improvised Explosive Device. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his wounds received in combat.
CPT Forseth recovered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. He served as a project coordinator for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) from its inception in 2005 to his retirement from the Army in March of 2008. CPT Forseth’s father taught him to fly fish at the age of fourteen, but he did not take on the sport seriously until returning to college. Fishing and floating the Stillwater and Yellowstone Rivers in Montana with his family became his favorite pastime. CPT Forseth attributes PHWFF with helping him overcome his disability by learning to fly fish and tie flies adaptively. As he and his family will attest, PHWFF was instrumental to his emotional and physical recovery.
CPT Forseth lives in Ventura, California with his wife, Tara, and their new baby girl, Astrid Linnea. His 15-year-old son, Tristan Eivind, lives in Orange County. CPT Forseth continues to support Warfighters and serves as an analyst for the Department of the Navy at Point Mugu, California.