The tournament pairs PHWFF Veteran Participants from around the country will be paired with a top industry professional for a day of fun, competitive angling. The professional guides do not fish, but concentrate on assisting the veteran team members during our flagship fundraising event.
It is our distinct pleasure to introduce the Veteran Competitors for the 12th Annual 2-Fly Tournament to you:
Charles Howdyshell USMC | Desert Storm
I was born in Staunton, Virginia on March 9, 1963. I am an advocate hunter and fisherman. I love the outdoors, camping and riding my Harley. I have 3 daughters, 1 stepdaughter and 2 stepsons. I also have 7 grandchildren. I am a yard driver at Walmart Distribution Center and I also do some construction work. I love to play golf and cornhole and I hold cornhole tournaments from April to October. I enjoy shooting my bow and going to the rifle range.
I joined the Marine Corp in November 1984 and went to recruit training at Paris Island, SC and then went to school at Camp Gieger, NC. I was then sent to Okinawa, Japan and then finished my tour at Cherry Point, NC. My MOS was a 3533-Motor Vehicle Operator. In 1991, I was called back up to report to 29 Palms, California for Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
I joined Project Healing Waters a little over 2 years ago and have since become and Assistant Program Leader. It great to meet other vets and get to assist them on the water. I have been fly fishing for over 25 years and love getting out and meeting new people.
Charlie Yeager US Army | Vietnam
Charlie Yeager was born and raised in Scranton, PA and graduated from Scranton High School. He served in the Army from 1966-1968 with 6th Battalion 27th Artillery, Battery B in fire direction control and artillery. After basic training, Charlie went to the NCO academy at Fort Sill Oklahoma Leadership Preparation school. Upon graduation he then taught the incoming students. At 18 years old he was in charge of 54 privates and his passion for teaching was born.
Charlie served at various fire bases in I Corps mostly in the northern part of South Vietnam. He was at firebase J.J. Carroll and Gio Linh- the northernmost Allied position during the Vietnam War. He operated 175mm self-propelled guns. Charlie’s military service taught him responsibility, maturity, respect, and camaraderie. Like many Vietnam veterans, Charlie has fought health issues related to Agent Orange exposure.
He began fishing at 10 years old, often with his dad and brother. At 15 years old he started tying flies and fly fishing, and that’s when he truly discovered his passion. He loves to be in the river and enjoys the serenity of nature.
Charlie has been teaching others to fly fish for 30 years. He worked with a local fly shop owner to teach classes consisting of casting, knots, reading water, and entomology.
Six years ago he saw a flyer at the VA for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and jumped right into helping others tie flies, build rods, and fish. Charlie is the Lead Fly tying teacher and has been integral in expanding the Pittsburgh program to include more tying classes. Charlie volunteers for Healing Waters every Monday at the VA in Aspinwall, PA and Wednesday evenings. A Friday class is in the works to accommodate even more veterans in the Pittsburgh area. He attends all the Summer outings and serves as a guide for veterans at a private trout club so they can fish year-round.
He spreads the word about PHWFF by speaking to veteran organizations and he even keeps PHWFF flyers in his car and gives them to anglers at the river. He has raised hundreds of dollars for Healing Waters this way.
Charlie enjoys teaching more than anything he’s ever done. Fishing is his life and his enthusiasm is contagious. He believes very strongly in helping his fellow veterans.
Charlie’s favorite quote is: “Man spends his whole life fishing not realizing it’s not the fish he’s after”.
Specialist Crystal Y. Woolen US Army | Iraq
SPC Crystal Yolanda Woolen is a 4th generation US Army combat veteran. Born in Neu-Ulm, Germany where her father served as a US Army Flight Medic with the Old Ironsides. She moved all over during her father’s career living in Alabama, North & South Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, Washington and Nevada where she graduated high school in 1999. She went off to college to pursue an English degree in Colorado and joined the US Army Reserves in 2000.
War called in 2003 and she deployed with the 244th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy) under the 4th Infantry Division and the “Triple Nickel” 555th Engineer Brigade for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the early days of OIF her unit spent time building Forward Operating Bases, roads, and doing security missions. The platoon suffered from the loss of her squad leader SSG Mark A. Lawton and others who were sent home due to severe injuries. Despite these losses Alpha Company, 244th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Heavy) was awarded the 2003 Itschner, a Regimental Engineer award, for the work done. SPC Woolen was awarded an Army Commendation Medal and Combat Action Badge for her time served from 2003-2004.
Crystal works in as a Peer Support Specialist with the Grand Junction VA as well as volunteering with Project Healing Waters, Team River Runner, and other community partners that serve Veterans. Crystal holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration from the University of Phoenix and is interested in developing new programs for Veterans and their families for healing
She started with Project Healing Waters as a participant about 3 years ago after seeing an article in the newspaper. She has been growing as a fly fisherwoman since. She can usually be found on the Roaring Fork during the summer fishing the clear waters or trying to convince someone to come with her.
David Headly US Army | Vietnam
Project Healing waters has been the best program I’ve been a part of in my recovery. The candor of the volunteers allows everyone to relate like family. Additionally, being surrounded by other wounded veterans makes it a commonplace and we don’t focus on our injuries but learning and honing new skills. I feel guilty participating in such an awesome event and wish there was more that I could do to help the program grow as it intends.
February 2009, in Fort Benning Georgia CPT Erck received injuries sustained from a full contact tackle from a Cadre member who was out of line. His injuries resulted in an immediate concussion, a damaged jaw line and bite, four chipped teeth, a laceration on his chin requiring eight stiches, and ongoing symptoms of TBI. OOA February 4, 2012 , in Paktika, Afganistan CPT Erck received injuries sustained from a fall. His injury resulted in the L patella tendon tear, R hip labral tear. While deployed from 2011-2012, in Paktika, Afghanistan, CPT Erck received multiple jolts to the head while performing duties in the confined spaces on his EOD vehicle. His injuries resulted in additional TBI symptoms and neck tension. While deployed from 2014-2015 in RC East, Afghanistan CPT Erck received head trauma while diving into a bunker while taking incoming indirect fire. His injuries furthered complications with his TBI symptoms and neck trauma. While returning to Fort Lee in June of 2016, CPT Erck was travelling southbound on I-95 and witnessed a plane crash where he immediately stopped his vehicle and ran to the crash site to render aid to the trapped and injured pilot. His injuries include additional wear on his hips, knees, spine, and joints while also cutting his hands several times on the windshield and being covered in lots of jet fuel, his eyes were also recovering from surgery and had been exposed to the fuel.
Colonel Donald Ballard U.S. Navy | Vietnam
Medal of Honor Recipient
Colonel Ballard enlisted in the US Navy in 1965 and attended basic recruit training in Great Lakes IL. After graduation he attended hospital corps school also in Great Lakes, followed by an assignment in the surgery department in the Navy Hospital located in Memphis TN as a Navy Corpsman or as civilians would call him a (paramedic).
In December 1966 Colonel Ballard was selected to serve with the Marines. He attended basic training for the second time, this time with the Marines at Camp Lejune NC. After completion of basic FMF training he was assigned to the First Battalion, Sixth Marines aboard the USS Cambridge (a troop transport ship in the 6th fleet). and set sail for the Mediterranean.
From the fall of 1967 to the late summer 1968 Colonel Ballard served as a frontline Corpsman with Mike Company, Third Battalion, Fourth Marines in Vietnam. As a Grunt Corpsman his job was to save the lives of the Marines in combat and to get the Marines home to their loved ones to the best of his ability.
His life changed on May 16th, 1968 in Quang Tri Province in the Republic of Vietnam. Colonel Ballard was then, a second-class Hospital Corpsman also called “Doc” by the Marines who greatly respect the corpsmen. “Doc” Ballard had evacuated a couple of Marines who had succumbed to heat exhaustion, and was returning to his unit when his unit was attacked by the North Vietnamese Army. His unit was caught in a fierce battle and had loss several Marines. “Doc” Ballard was treating six Marines and was directing the Marines to move the wounded Marines to a safer location when the enemy began throwing hand grenades and shooting into the small group. An enemy grenade hit “Doc” Ballard in the helmet and landed near him, he quickly threw it back in the direction of the enemy, short time later, a second grenade landed in the middle of the group of Marines. “Doc” Ballard dived onto the grenade, however it did not explode. “Doc” Ballard reached under his stomach grabbed the grenade, rolled over and threw it away from the Marines. The grenade then exploded in the air, no Americans were wounded. “Doc” Ballard continued to treat and evacuate the Marines.
“Doc” Ballard was credited for saving several marine’s lives and was wounded 8 times himself. He was med-evaced to Japan for treatment and He was awarded his third Purple Heart medal. In February 1970 He left the Navy and Joined the US Army.
On May 14th 1970 “Doc” Ballard received the Medal of Honor from President Nixon in a White House ceremony. After returning home he decided to stay home. He joined the Police Dept in North Kansas City Missouri, after serving 7 years, and then he switched to the Fire Department and retired as a Captain after 20 years of service. He also joined the Kansas Army National Guard as a second lieutenant Medical Service Corps. He served a very distinguished military career for a total of 35 years as E-1 to O-6. In1998 he was promoted to the rank of Full Bird Colonel and retired in 2000.
One highlight of his military career was: He actual flew an Air Force F16 fighter jet.
But that is another story to be told later.
Colonel Ballard is one of two navy corpsmen still alive that received the Medal of Honor. He is the only recipient living in the State of Missouri. Out of 44 million veterans that have served our great country only 3,485 Medals of Honor has been issued and today there is only 80 living.
He currently is still serving the community by offering discounts and free services to the needy and youth under 18 years of age at his “Chapel of Memories Funeral Home & Swan Lake Memorial Park Cemetery” in Grain valley Missouri just north of Pink Hill and Slaughter Road which they are proud to announce has been named the host site for the 501(C)(3) National Combat Medical Memorial and Youth Education Center. The scouts and youth groups have open air class rooms, hiking trails, camp grounds.
Last year Colonel Ballard developed two new gardens at Swan Lake Memorial Park Cemetery to offer free spaces to any Police Officer, Firefighter, Para Medic, EMTS and any other Medical / or safety personnel.
Colonel Ballard sells autographed copies of the Medal of Honor Books and the “Doc” Books to raise money for the Memorial and funds for those who need it most. Everyone deserves a dignified funeral. And scouts are our new leaders.
Gary Herber US Army | Afghanistan
I served in the US Army as part of the 10th Mountain’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team from 2007-2012.
We were deployed to eastern Afghanistan from December of 2008 to December 2009. I operated as lead truck gunner of a five-truck security team called the Death Dealers. The Death Dealers were the QRF (quick response force) for FOB (forward operating base) Shank in Logar Province which is nicknamed “the gates of jihad”.
During the fighting season of 2009 (July-September) my 24 man platoon hit 13 IEDs.
Since 2009 I have fought a personal war within. A war that I thought would never end, the war was not again extremists or ideologies but rather against the formidable foes of sleeplessness, depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and a general distrust of my fellow man.
PHWFF has given me the opportunity to interact with other veterans and patriots. Through the art of fly tying, fishing and rod building I have made connections and friendships with people that I never would have met otherwise. These interactions and relationships have taught me to see the similarities in my fellow man instead of focusing only on our differences.
Greg Dixon US Navy, Army National Guard | Gulf War
In 1978 Greg joined the United States Navy where he was assigned to the USS Patrick Henry (SSBN-599) Fleet Ballistic Submarine stationed at Pearl Harbor Hawaii. After ending his tour of duty in 1982 with two years of reserve, he was Honorably Discharged in 1984 as a Radioman Third Class (SS).
In 1984 Greg joined the Tennessee Army National Guard assigned to HHB 196th Field Artillery Brigade. He was deployed in 1991 with his unit to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Upon returning from the Gulf War Greg transferred to Battery “B” 1-181st Field Artillery Battalion as Platoon Sergeant (E7) of a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). After several years with this Unit he transferred back to the 196th Field Artillery Brigade where he assumed command as First Sergeant. Greg retired as 1st Sergeant (E8) in 2003 with 25 years of dedicated and honorable service.
1978 to 1982: Cold War Vet 1991: Gulf War vet
Greg has actively been with the PHWFF Chattanooga program since its inception over four years ago. Greg feels he will never be able to fully express how much this program means to him. It has given him renewed hopes and passions that will forever impact his life. The concentration and focus necessary to work through the small details involved in fly tying, rod building, and knots is something he has not experienced in a long time. The camaraderie Greg has with the other veterans is priceless. He tries to pass on his knowledge of the PHWFF program to every veteran he meets. Greg also has a high admiration for PHWFF volunteers.
CWO4 Gregory W Johnson U.S. Navy | Desert Storm, Somalia, Iraq & Afghanistan
Greg was born at the Portsmouth Virginia Naval Hospital in May of 1967. He grew up in Conneaut, Ohio on Lake Erie. Greg was taught to hunt and fish by his grandfather at an early age and spent the majority of his time growing up, in the woods, in the creeks or on the lake catching fish after that. He graduated from Conneaut High School in 1985 and enlisted into the United States Navy as an Advance Electronics Technician.
After graduation from Electronics school, he was transferred to the USS KAUFFMAN (FFG59) where he served as a communication technician, helicopter fire team member and the Visit Board and Search team. He deployed to the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. Upon promotion to E5 he applied and was accepted for the opportunity to attend U.S. Navy Dive and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) training. Upon graduation of dive school in 1991, he was honor graduate of EOD Basic phase at Eglin AFB and honor graduate of Naval School EOD in Indian Head MD, achieving the highest grade point average in over 10 years. He then transferred to EODMU TWO in Virginia Beach, VA where he deployed 3 times to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. In 1996 he transferred to EODMU TWO Detachment Earle, NJ. He was on one of the first dive recovery teams on the scene of the TWA Flt 800 crash where he spent 43 days diving to recover victims and wreckage, this duty station was also where he met and married his lovely wife Lisa . In 1999 he was selected as the U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations Shore Sailor of the Year, he was promoted to E7 and transferred to Washington DC as the special assistant to the CNO. In 2000 he was commissioned as a EOD CWO2 and transferred to EODMU SIX in South Carolina, he served as an EOD Detachment Officer in Charge and deployed to the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. In 2002 he transferred to Mayport, FL and served as the Officer in Charge of a Regional Shore Detachment. In 2004 CWO3 Johnson transferred to EODMU FIVE in Guam and served as the Readiness and Training Department head. In 2007 CWO4 Johnson transferred to NAVEODTECHDIV in Indian Head MD where he served as the Readiness and Training Department head and Foreign Materiel Acquisition Platoon Officer in Charge, he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan 3 times in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He retired in 2010 and was hired as a civil servant as the Foreign Materiel Acquisition lead for NAVEODTECHDIV where he deployed 3 times in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
In 2015 Greg was invited to attend a Project Healing Waters meeting at Fort Belvoir VA. Having grown up fresh water fishing he was drawn to skill and finesse involved with fly-fishing. He eagerly attended meetings and outings developing friendships and learning new skills. On January 13, 2017 while in support U.S. and Foreign Partner SOF in South East Asia, he was severely wounded by Improvised Explosives. He lost several fingers on one hand, the other was severely burned and he had fragmentation throughout his body. After 12 surgeries, physical therapy and he recovered from his injuries. Greg returned to work and continues occupational therapy. He has grown to love every aspect of fly fishing, and now has the desire to help give this opportunity of coping with daily life back to every veteran in need of peace. His wife and two daughters are the number one priority in his life and are his constant source of support. When he is not with them you can find him tying flies, researching the art of fly fishing or trying to find the next good fishing hole.
Kyle Chanitz US Army | Afghanistan
I grew up an hour from NYC in an Italian neighborhood called Endwell, NY. I was in the 9th grade when 9/11 happened, and it was then I knew that I would fight for my country. On May 26h, 2006 I enlisted into the US Army. I was sent to infantry school and then airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia. My first duty assignment was the 82nd Airborne in Fayetteville, NC. I went back to Fort Benning and on September 27, 2007, graduated from the Army’s Sniper Course. My first deployment to Afghanistan was in January, 2008 where I encountered IED blasts and firefights. I witnessed my first combat related deaths: a Hungarian EOD technician was working on a landmine which was triple stacked, and the bottom two detonated as he decommissioned the top mine. An image that replays in my head, to this very day, every day.
In March, 2008, returned stateside for one month deploying again to Afghanistan in April, 2008. Around June, 2008, my life changed forever. Too many of my brothers had died or been maimed. I became cold and detached. I was given methylphenidate to stay awake and I took klonopin to control my shakiness that the methylphenidate caused. I soon was given opium from one of my Afghan army brothers, Three weeks after my first use of opium I was using it daily. I returned stateside on December 31, 2008, still using narcotics heavily.
Eventually I was back in Afghanistan for my third tour. While at a small OP in Nangahar province I lost too many brothers. With only 46 days into the tour I suffered my second severe concussion, left eardrum was blown, I now suffer seizures and migraines. That was it for me, my tour stoped that day. Hey I was headed back to Bragg, where I spent my last 2 years in the Army training other soldiers that were going to be part of ETTs in Afghanistan. I received an Honorable Discharge in May, 2012. My life began to collapse entirely.
In August, 2014, I landed at the Salem VAMC, dried out for 2 weeks, then went into a 28 day substance abuse program. After discharge, I am homeless, I have no money. I went into Trust House, a halfway house which has 15 vets living there. By January 1, 2015, I had been sober since I first checked into the VA in August. In February I met Bob Crawshaw and Jake Blizzard of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. My life now has something in it I can obsess over and be passionate about that is healthy. My life revolves around fly tying and fly fishing. I have attended many PHWFF trips and events. I am now giving back. I now guide my fellow veterans and teach them fly tying. Being able to feel that fellowship again is wonderful. I no longer hate myself, for the first time in a long time, my life revolves around wanting to live free and healthy. And, on October 7, 2017, I got married to the love of my life. My future is bright indeed.
Sergeant Lisa Ornelas US Army | Iraq
Lisa was born and raised in Southern California. She grew up a tomboy helping her father with plumbing, drywall, electrical, automotive repair, and masonry. She spent countless hours by his side listening to stories of his time in Korea and visiting with her grandfather who told stories of his time in WWII. Her father explained if she was going to enlist there are three people you want to make friends with: the Cook, Supply and Finance. He explained everyone needs supplies, food and money in the military.
Lisa graduated high school in 1986. She gave birth to a daughter in 1988 and a son in 1992. She began attending college and joined the California Army National Guard in 1993 attached to the 40th Finance Battalion out of Compton, California as a Finance/Accounting Specialist and Financial Management Technician because everyone needs the money guy. Lisa completed her obligation in late August 2001.
Lisa worked as a Park Ranger, Inspection and Quarantine for the United States Department of Agriculture, and Detention Officer while completing her Bachelor degree in Criminal Justice and Public Administration at the California State University Fullerton graduating in 2003. Lisa was attending the university as a graduate student when she reenlisted in the Army in 2004 where she met Don her husband. She was deployed to Iraq in 2004 stationed at FOB Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq. She worked as a finance cashier, Supply SGT, NBC NCO, Unit Military Postal Clerk, and the additional duty as Security Officer. Don deployed to Iraq in 2004 stationed at FOB Warrior in Kirkuk, Iraq.
In March 2005 she suffered multiple head and neck injuries. While being treated at the Balad Air Base Theater Hospital she was housed in the patient overflow tent when it was mortared. She was later released to Speicher for additional treatment. While there she was severely beaten, strangled and left for dead. She received more treatment and sent to Germany, stabilized and on to Ft. Knox, Kentucky where she spent 17 months recovering from her injuries and separated from the military.
After returning home in late 2006 Lisa returned to work as a Jail Manager and Correctional Officer. She was unable to perform her duties without putting herself and others in danger and resigned her position. She married Don in 2009; their blended family consisting of four daughters and one son. Lisa returned to the university to complete her degree. She received a Masters of Science in Criminology in 2009 from California State University Long Beach. Then attended California State University Fullerton to study Crime and Intelligence Analysis as well as California State University Dominquez Hills to study Community College Teaching. She then worked as a Crime and Intelligence Analyst. Lisa found the job worsened her PTSD making her completely unable to trust people.
Her son enlisted and soon deployed to Afghanistan. Lisa now understood what it was like to be the one at home. She was losing her battle with depression, anxiety, isolation, agoraphobia and trust issues. After years of conventional therapy with the Veterans Affairs Administration, her symptoms were worsening. Her mental health professionals encouraged her to contact Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. Lisa decided to return to school and was admitted to the University Southern California. The postgraduate program was very supportive when Lisa decided she could not continue and returned to the VA for exposure therapy, CBT, and EMDR. During her therapy Lisa found herself at her worst. She was losing the battle within herself and decided to try the alternative therapy with Project Healing Waters. Lisa called Carole Katz of Project Healing Waters Long Beach who promptly returned her call, giving Lisa no chance to talk herself out of going. She attended the meeting and found the participants and volunteers to be warm and inviting. The camaraderie was between the participants was apparent and was something Lisa had missed. Lisa started just in time for rod building and found the activity to be very therapeutic, taking her out of her own head while she worked. Casting had the same effect on her; she found herself spending extra days at the casting pond practicing. Lisa’s family saw the improvement in her and supported her fly-fishing by encouraging her and providing her with the latest and greatest fly-fishing gear. Lisa found over time her relationship with her husband, Don, improved. Don, a combat veteran has remained by her side caring for and supporting her through the worst of times. Her relationships with her five children had deteriorated over the years since she returned home from Iraq, but, since participating in Project Healing Waters, these relationships became stronger over time as she opened herself up to them once again. They continue to show their support and encouragement often commenting how wonderful it is to have their mother home.
Master Sergeant Scott J. Phanco U.S. Army, Desert Storm | Iraq
Master Sergeant Phanco, Scott, J was born in Jamestown, New York on (May, 23 1967). He enlisted in the United States Army on January 20, 1987 after graduating from Jamestown High School. He completed Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at (Fort Dix), New Jersey. He was awarded the Military Occupational Skill Identifier 63 B from the U.S. Army Ordnance School.
Upon completion of his training, he was assigned to the SVC BTRY, 4/92 FA BN, based out of Erie, PA. Scott was first mobilized and deployed with the 14th QM DET, August 1990. Prior to his mobilization he was trained as a 77W10 water purification specialist at Fort Lee VA and then deployed to (Dhahran Saudi Arabia) in support of Desert Shield Desert Storm. February 15, 1991 is a day he will remember for the rest of his life. While deployed to Dhahran Saudi Arabia he received injuries from a scud missile attack. The result was sharp metal throughout the right side of his body. He was immediately transported to Landstuhl, Germany with his final destination to Walter Reed.
In 2004 – 2005 he was again mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF 2-3). During that mobilized he acted as the assistant Platoon Sergeant for the 223 Transportation Company. Their main mission was to push highly needed fuel to forward deployed base within the Devil’s Triangle. There he sustained several more injuries from IEDs, mortar attacks and multiple back injuries.
In 2013 he answered the call again to mobilize with the 2nd BN(TS)(CS/CSS), 312 Regt. While assigned to the 312th Regt. he acted as Master HMMWV Instructor at JB MDL NJ. On January 15, 2014 he received injuries sustained from a fall on the ice which resulted in a broken clavicle, head wound, and shoulder injury. A few months later he fell and broken his back and then was assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit at FT Belvoir, VA.
While assigned to the WTU he became interested in Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. PHWFF has helped him to not self isolate and allowed him to find joy while recovering from his injuries. He has met other injured service members through the program, which has a constant positive influence on him and others. He plans on retiring from the Army with over thirty years in and head back to PA with his wife Tammy to start enjoying the retirement life with his 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren. He plans on joining the PHWFF program in Erie, PA to keep fly fishing and participating with vets.
Wayne Simpson US Army National Guard | Afghanistan
Wayne was born in Chattanooga, TN and his family lived just across the TN/GA line in Fort Oglethorpe. He and his brother and sister played in creeks and enjoyed the outdoors. When Wayne was 8 years old his father went into the ministry and the family moved to Fargo, ND and later to Hermiston, OR and then on to Tillamook, OR. Wayne knew from when he was 10 years old that he wanted to be in the military (Air Force) like his father was in 1968. Wayne was fascinated with anything that was military and knew that travelling the U.S. with his family would help prepare him to see the world while in the military.
Wayne was an excellent student throughout school. He loved ROTC where he excelled and was the top ranking cadet at his school. When he was 22 he decided on May 3, 1996 to join the Army and go to Forward Observer School (13F). Wayne was the distinguished Honor Grad in both BASIC Training and AIT. After his initial time in the Army he went into the TN Army National Guard as a 13P Fire Direction Specialist for the MLRS/HIMARS weapon system.
Wayne married in 2002 while he was in the National Guard. In June 2005 he was deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom to Afghanistan for 11 months. In June 2007 he was deployed for Iraqi Freedom to Iraq as MP/Convoy Security/QRF operations. He was injured in Dec 2007 and was MEDEVAC’d to Landstuhl Germany in Jan 2008. He has had numerous surgeries and suffers from PTSD.
After Wayne’s injuries he thought life was over, as far as working a job was concerned. He went through VA Vocational Rehab and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of TN. He is now employed as a software security tester at Blue Cross Blue Shield of TN.
Wayne finds healing and comfort from being a participant in Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. It gives him a chance to talk with other veterans and to just escape the everyday grind of life. He looks forward to the meetings every month, learning new fly fishing skills, and meeting other veterans. He finds that time spent on the water is relaxing and helps him forget all of his infirmaries. Wayne is especially grateful for the volunteers and sponsors for their time and generous donations to this very important and healing organization for veterans.