The 11th Annual Mossy Creek Invitational benefiting Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc (PHWFF) and the thousands of disabled veterans the organization serves each year will be held on June 2, 2018 in Bridgewater, Virginia. The Mossy Creek Invitational serves as a fun fly fishing competition in which PHWFF veteran participants are paired with a sponsor and professional fly fishing guide for a day of memorable angling on Virginia’s famed Mossy Creek. For over a decade we have focused on healing those who serve and the Mossy Creek Invitational serves to raise funds to provide disabled veterans with the support they need on their journeys to recovery.
We are looking forward to another great year on Mossy Creek! In the upcoming days we will be highlighting special moments, people, and organizations who have become part of the PHWFF family at the MCI as well as launching a very special online auction with our friends at Mossy Creek Fly Fishing.
And now we are very pleased to introduce the veterans competitors for the 11th Annual Mossy Creek Invitational to you:
David Jernigan U.S. Army | Tennessee Valley Region, Murfreesboro Program
David Lankford Jernigan was born on December 7, 1962 to Harry Lee Jernigan and Mary Pauline Jernigan. His father was serving our country as a B-52 flight engineer with the Strategic Air Command. David’s older brother served our country in the U.S. Army. David is married and the father of two girls, ages 20 and 17.
David enlisted in the US Army in 1978 and served 18 years before being injured in 2004. His first enlistment was for 13yrs and during that time he was involved in the conflict in Grenada and Operation Dessert Storm. His first discharge was in 1991 at the end of the war. David went to school and worked as a machinist. He studied welding and metallurgy while working in this field.
When on September 11th the towers fell and it hit him very hard to know that something like that could happen on our own soil. So after 10 years not being in the military he enlisted in the Tennessee National Guard with the 1175th HET Company. He felt the need to support our country and retire from the Army at the same time.
On January of 2003 his unit was first called to active duty before the war and was sent to the Persian Gulf. In May his truck carried the bull dozer that broke through the barrier starting the ground war for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served almost two years in the gulf before his truck hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). After returning to the states he was forced to retire because of injuries. While spending time in the hospital at Ft. Knox, it was determined that he was no longer fit for service and discharged.
After spending time healing he decided to get his degree, he graduated from MTSU with a double Major, in Art and Mechanical Engineering. Even though he is unemployable do to his disability, he was the first in his family to get a college degree.
After college he experienced major depression and found myself thinking he was useless and had even contemplated suicide. His wife contacted Higher Ground and they were given a veteran’s trip to Sun Valley, Idaho. At the end of the trip he was called in the office of the administrator where he told him they would give him a sports package so that he would continue to get out of the house and he asked him what he would like. David told him that some of his fondest memories were of his brother and him fly-fishing so he asked for fly-fishing gear. He asked David if he had ever heard of Project Healing Waters and he said “no”. He got David the contact information for the Murfreesboro program which at that time was just getting started.
David was headed inside with fly rod in hand, for his first meeting, but never made it. While walking to the door a man came out and said to him “ Are you here for the healing waters meeting?” David replied “Yes” and what he was told next caught him off guard. He returned with “Well good, we are fishing go that way!” pointing at David’s truck. David got in, and followed them to the river. David finally met the man that became his mentor for a few years until he became ill himself. Many thanks to Warren for all the time that he spent with David from teaching him to cast and find his own rhythm to how to use and work the flies he is now tying.
David has been with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing for over 5 years now and can only say that without their help and friendship he would not be here today. He has enjoyed the learning and the friendships that he has made and in return he is now turning into the man that came at him that sunny day. David is now teaching and passing on what Warren has taught him to other veterans in hopes of giving them what they need.
Sabrina Beganny U.S. Army | New England Region, Augusta Program
Sabrina Beganny grew up in a small town in Maine. She was raised in a family where hunting, fishing and the outdoors were a way of life. Her family owned a small bait and tackle shop where as a child, she looked on as her father made his own fly-rods and tied all his own flies with pride. As Sabrina entered her teenage years, she lost touch with that way of life. After graduating from high school she completed a couple years of college and then accepted a position with a major retail company in San Francisco. She was happy but always felt like there was something missing.
Sabrina yearned for values and character stronger than she’d ever known in herself. In 2001, she entered a recruiting office in Oakland, CA and enlisted in the U.S. Army to become a medical specialist with additional training to become a physical therapy assistant and to continue to grow in that field. (91BN9)
She did her basic training at Ft. Leonardwood, MO and did her medical training at Ft. Sam Houston, TX. She spent most of her time in, working at Brooke Army Medical Center in many different areas. One being the burn unit in which she helped in the rehabilitation of injured soldiers. This experience left a mark on Sabrina that she will never forget. During her time stationed at Ft. Sam, Sabrina was diagnosed with a bone condition that was uncommon for somebody her age. Doctors believe it to be caused by physical trauma from training, which went misdiagnosed for quite some time. Due to her inability to compete with her peers because of the physical limitations she now had, Sabrina was eventually medically discharged.
Leaving the Army was not in Sabrina’s plan. She thought she had her future mapped out. Sabrina moved back home to Maine to continue to work through her physical struggles. Her dream of being a PT for the military had come to an end. Sabrina’s health condition affected all areas of her life.
The trauma from the condition and surgery left her with intense chronic pain. She struggled to withstand the physical demands of work and school. Sabrina had a hard time coping with these new limitations. She was unable to partake in activities that once brought her joy. These factors contributed to a long road of depression and anxiety.
Through various therapies, Sabrina has now learned excellent coping skills so that she is able to find joy once again and to be active with her family. She was eventually able to graduate with a BA in Wellness and Sport Management. Her hopes are to help others like herself learn ways to be lead a meaningful and happy life while living with physical limitations.
In 2014 Sabrina tagged along with her husband on a fishing trip. She would normally just look on
and watch her husband fish, admiring the peace that came over him, but never understanding how he could stand in that stream all day long without getting restless. One particular evening, just as the sun was setting and the salmon began to rise, she didn’t have any waders on, so as to not get wet her husband carried her out to a rock in the middle of the stream, put the fly rod in her hands and in that moment memories of her childhood and father came flooding back. With that glimpse into the world of fly fishing, Sabrina began to seek out ways to keep that feeling alive.
During a trip to the VA for a routine doctors appointment, Sabrina noticed a poster for PHWFF. It was like the universe had placed it there just for her to see that day. She was a bit nervous to go,
not sure how well she would fit in or be accepted. Sabrina always struggled with her title as a “Veteran”, because she felt that her short time in the service hardly warranted the esteemed title. How could she be categorized with those that truly risked their lives for our nation and it’s causes. She got the courage to attend her first meeting and was pleasantly surprised at how all the veterans and volunteers in the program were so welcoming. Each one of the members shaking her hand and letting her know how happy they were that she made the decision to come. This was the beginning of a healing inside of her she did not expect.
Project Healing Waters has greatly contributed to Sabrina’s recovery in that it has enhanced her life by filling her with new purpose and friendship. The program has taught Sabrina to use nature as a platform for healing. “Fly fishing kind of changed my perspective in what I wanted in life, it feels like home, a mixture of comfort, peace and hope. This feeling became my way of connecting with and remembering my father and the love for the outdoors the he instilled in me early on in my life, that I thought was lost forever.”
Sabrina plans to continue to be apart of PHWFF and thinks of the participants in her group as family. She strives to be a strong role model and to ultimately make a difference every day. Her hopes for the future are to teach and inspire others about the joy and peace that comes from being in the stream and the healing that fly fishing can bring, the way Project Healing Waters has done and continues to do for her.
Don Lee U.S. Marine Corps | Southwest Region, Long Beach Program
Don was born and lived in Korea until the age of 14 when the family moved to the US. After moving to Georgia, Michigan and Colorado, they eventually settled in Southern California where Don attended Gardena High School and LA Trade-Technical. He and his wife Ann have two children, a son and daughter.
While serving in Vietnam from 1968-69 with the USMC Kilo Company, Third Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Don suffered a bad concussion from a grenade explosion near his head and a leg injury for which he was awarded two Purple Heart Medals. He talks about the time in Vietnam as being “both good times and bad times”, and where he formed some amazing relationships, and describes it as an experience he will never forget. He remains very active in his Kilo Company annual reunions.
Don started with the Long Beach PHWFF program in January 2011. He says PHWFF is the best thing that ever happened to him, that the program has helped him a great deal.
Don has evolved into an exceptional rod maker after learning to weave from professional rod builder Doc Ski who was demonstrating in class. His first attempt at weaving won him first place in Category 3 of the national rod building program. Since that time, Don has mastered the art of weaving.
Weaving is a tedious and time-consuming process. To weave, one essentially constructs a loom on top of the butt section. Threads must be uniformly and meticulously placed in slots of the loom on both the left and right of where the logo will emerge. Each color is one layer of horizontal threads. According to a graph of the design plan, a thread is wrapped around the circumference of the rod, being very careful to apply consistent pressure to not rotate the design on the rod. Thread tension and straightness are critical, as is absolute attention to the design graph. The average weave takes an experienced weaver 16-20 hours. A more complex weave will take 40-50 hours and the most complex like the Devil Dog will take 100 hours. Just loading the loom for the Devil Dog with the 0.8 mile of thread required takes seven hours. In addition, when a new pattern is developed, at least one and probably two practice runs are necessary to correct the pattern and work out spacing and layout issues. The absolute concentration required when weaving is very beneficial to those suffering from PTSD.
Don has done at least 80 weaves on rods and wading staffs for fundraising, other vets, his Kilo Company buddies, fishing guides who donate days of guiding and many others. He has woven rods for PHWFF national and local fundraisers such as the 2-Fly, Mossy Creek Invitational, Healing on the Fly New York and Boston, Norcal 2-Pattern Tournament, Southwest Region Volunteer and Participant-of-the-Year Award winners, as well as major donors and supporters. Weaving has benefitted him personally while raising more than $30,000 in donations for PHWFF. The total number of hours he has dedicated to weaving in order to benefit our organization is staggering. He received the Patriot Award in 2017.
Marvin Johnson U.S. Army | Virginia Region, Roanoke Program
“I was deployed two times, once in 2003 to 2004 and then 2013 to 2014. I was in both of the Gulf Wars. I really did not understand the things I was going through so I just started drinking more and more not knowing what I was really going through. It was PTSD and I was self-medicating myself and not getting treatment for it. In 2014 after my deployment I was diagnosed with PTSD, so then I started getting treatment for it. In one of the treatments, I was in the 28 day program where I met a lot of people. In there I met a fellow soldier named Kyle.
We began a friendship and when we completed the program, we stayed in touch with one another and then he asked me to go to a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing meeting. For me it was so hard because I did not want to meet new people or do anything that I did not know anything about. Once I got there everyone welcomed me and now it is one of the only things that I do and enjoy. I like being around fellow veterans.”
Sean Hunter U.S. Coast Guard | Tennessee Valley Region, Nashville Program
Sean Hunter is originally from Brookline, Massachusetts, but, now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Sean, as his family refers to him, was very active in grade and high school and participated in a variety of activities. As a Cub Scout, he learned about being responsible and trustworthy by working a daily paper route, and cutting lawns and shoveling snow. As he grew older, he took on more responsible jobs like a plumber’s helper and painting houses, as well as helping neighbors and friends and as most other kids, earning some badly needed school money.
Sean enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1966 and served four years active duty. Stationed with the New London Group, Fort Trumbull, he was assigned to the Patrol Boat Cape Fairweather. Their mission was Search and Rescue and Port Security. He later was assigned to SAR Communications at the Command Group Center.
After the military, Sean attended college in England for 2 years. After a break for a couple of years he returned to college graduated and was accepted to Graduate School. He used his education to help others by teaching in both public and private schools, as well as teaching in a prison. His military experience, education and learned life skills have provide him the ability to bring hope, faith and happiness to others as well as himself.
Sean Hunter joined the Project Healing Waters Program in the Fall of 2015. He is enthusiastic about learning about and developing his fly fishing skills through the program and with the help of more experience fly fisherman, hopes to contribute to other disabled veterans in the Project Healing Waters Program.
“I am the voice for the Boomer Esiason Story time – where I write and present stories that the Boomer Esiason Foundations for Cystic Fibrosis uses for families and children that are in the hospital and other needed care. Writing (journaling) is part of my recovery and being in Project Healing Waters, the joy and help that I’ve had from the program and volunteers has lead me to bring that into my writings. Project Healing Waters – since I joined the program it has been basically a daily part of my activities. I’m not near a body of water, but almost every day I can go out on the lawn with the rod and reel the program has provided and even if it’s only for 15 minutes, practice casting and aiming for targets. Any of the issues and stress of the day all go away, especially if the sun is brightly shining, and that comfortable warmth just eases through you. Allowing me to not escape, but in a healthy way continue to gain in a needed healing.”
Steve LeMarr U.S. Army | Tennessee Valley Region, Dandridge Program
Steve was born and raised in Knoxville Tennessee. He attended the University of Tennessee for two years and was drafted into the military at the end of the second year. He elected to enter the OCS program at Fort Knox Kentucky at the armor school. He received a commission as an armor officer in October 1967. After a short stent as a basic training officer at Fort Jackson, he elected to attend helicopter training at Fort Wolters, Texas. While in the military, he served in various command positions as well as several staff positions. He spent 1 year in Vietnam as a platoon Commander of a scout platoon in 3rd Squadron 17th Air Cavalry. While flying in Vietnam he received several awards to include the Distinguished Flying Cross. He is commercially rated in both fixed and rotary winged aircraft.
Steve left the Army in 1974 voluntarily to pursue further education and ultimately a career in pharmacy. While in school, Steve was elected Vice President of the national student pharmacy association.
His interests are varied but include hunting and fishing at the top of the list. He enjoys big game hunting in the West. He also loves to hunt upland game birds. His fishing experience includes several trips to Canada. He also has been a part of several mission trips to Poland, Dagestan, and Guatemala.
He found out about and became a Volunteer/Participant in Project Healing Waters in June 2016. He is a novice fly fisherman but really enjoys it and the healing friendships that have developed.
He is happily married to Cindy and together they have 6 children and 17 grandchildren
Charles Baswell U.S. Navy | Heartland Region, Omaha Program
Charles Baswell was born in Tucson,AZ and spent the first 12 yrs of his life in a small farming and ranching town. He lost his Father when he was 10 yrs old and his Mother had to go back to teaching 2th to 5th grade. He won’t say his life was tough, but he had alot challenges growing up with no Father in his life. He had to go from being a 10yr old boy to an 11yr old man very fast.
One of the few joys he had growing up was fishing in farm ponds he has now been fishing for 50 yrs and loved every second he was on the water. Many of the lessons of life he learned while working on the farms was respect. Respect for others, good core values, and good work habits. These values help to balance yourself in the hard times. He freely shares many of these values with his own children and other as well. Life is not fair,but many times if you look for the good things in life you can find them.
Charles served in the Navy and now finds working with many of our Veterans at the VA Medical Center here in Omaha both enjoyable and rewarding. His life is very different now, he’s trying to work though his own trouble with PTSD/MST and other medical things…He tells many of our vets today, not to wait to get the help they will need!!! It’s here, and now is the time to deal with it before there life passes before them.
Charles has also begun working with the Nebraska Game and Parks teaching young people fishing and sharing the love of the outdoors he has. He is an asset to our PHWFF program and to his fellow Veterans.
Gregory Bozovich Army Reserve | Pennsylvania Region
Gregory Bozovich was a member of the US Army Reserve and was deployed in 2005 as a Combat Military Transition Team Advisor in Habbaniyah, Iraq. SGT Bozovich advised a company of Iraqi soldiers on 445 combat patrols while defeating numerous enemy engagements and IED attacks. He earned a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge for his service. SGT Bozovich’s 10 man MiTT team completed 1596 combat patrols, struck 51 IED’s, attacked by 1 VBIED, recovered 50 IED’s, engaged in 40 small arms attacks, 18 indirect fire attacks, and uncovered 1 suicide vest factory, 9 weapons caches, and 1 VBIED. The Mitt Team and there Iraqi counterparts suffered 3 US Army and 34 Iraqi Army Killed in Action, and 6 wounded team members. SGT Bozovich returned home in 2006 but his tour and multiple close proximity IED explosions left him with a Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD. In 2016 Greg was becoming more withdrawn and engulfed in work. A close family friend had introduced him to Fly Fishing but lived too far away to keep his interest so he decided to reach out to his local PHWFF Chapter in hopes to continue progress in his recovery. PHWFF has provided him the confidence to try new things, and challenge himself daily.
Today, Greg married the love of his life, Julia and they reside in a small Pennsylvania town on a few acres with there beloved cats and dogs. He has earned his Government Contracting Certification and works for the Veteran’s Health Administration advising and working with the hospital staff in planning and establishing contracts to provide the best care possible for Veterans. Greg and his team were also featured in a Book, “Snake Eaters” written by USMC Owen West. Today he is working with another Volunteer to establish a PHWFF program at the local VA hospital with the hopes to share this great opportunity with other service members.
Don Aird U.S. Army | Heartland Region, St. Louis Vets Home Program
Born and raised in North Dakota. Graduated from Wahpeton HS Wahpeton, ND in 1961.
Graduated from Dickinson State College with a BS in biology – Dickinson, ND in 1966. Graduated from North Dakota State University with a MS in microbiology – Fargo, ND in 1973. Completed course work and passed exams for a doctorate in adult education at East Texas State in Commerce, TX 1983. He didn’t finish the degree.
Drafted August 1969 into the Army. MOS 13E20 – Fire Direction Specialist. Served in Vietnam from January 1970 – March 1971. Was in a fire direction center for an 8 inch/175MM artillery battery. We moved 11 times from Phu/Bai/ Hue to near the Ashau Valley finishing 2000 meters south of the DMZ. He extended his tour in Vietnam to get an early out. He suffered hearing problems, specifically tinnitus, in both ears. He finished as the Charley battery’s FDC section chief. He is married – 45 years. Has a Daughter and a Granddaughter in Florida.
He taught HS science and 8th grade math in Hankinson, ND from 1966 – 1969. Started with the US Food & Drug Administration February 1974 retired September 2005. Began as a microbiologist/investigator in Dallas, TX. Did numerous inspections of food producers in: TX, OK, NM and Louisiana as well as laboratory analysis of food samples from the 4 states and imported food products. In 1981 became a Public Affairs Officer. He spoke to: college classes, consumer and business groups and industry about FDA and its programs. He was interviewed by radio and TV stations concerning ongoing FDA issues like: cyanide in Tylenol, Salmonella in various food products and other issues affecting the consuming public.
He was FDA’s Public Affairs Specialist of the year in 2003.
Once retired he became involved in various Veterans programs. He has helped provide over 300 Military Honors for deceased Veterans through the VFW and Vietnam Veterans of America.
He helps the Marine Corps League with fund raising and Toys for Tots. He was Missouri Marine Corps Associate of the year.
He helped form Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1028 in Fenton, MO. To date 1028 has raised and given away over $150,000 to various Veteran’s programs including PHWFF.
Working with St Louis Project Healing Waters he helps with the Monday 3 PM session at building 53 and twice a month goes to the MO Veteran’s Home in north St Louis to tie flies with the Veterans. He participates in many of the PHWFFs activities during the year. He is the PHWFFs Volunteer of the Year for the Missouri Veteran’s Home.
He has been tying flies and fly fishing for over 30 years. He ties deer hair mice on hat pins for the Veterans and kids.
Brian Wood U.S. Marine Corps | National Capital Region, Fort Belvoir Program
Brian was born in Niskayuna, New York in May of 1975. He grew up in Loudonville, New York, spending much of his time playing hockey, often with his brother and friends in the area. His interest in service, particularly in the military, began at a young age, and he took action by earning an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Brian continued playing hockey at the Academy, and upon graduation was commissioned in the Marine Corps.
Brian’s Marine Corps career began with training at The Basic School, Ground Supply Officer’s Course, and an initial assignment to Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines. Following his transfer to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, Brian deployed as the Battalion Landing Team Supply Officer in 2001. His unit was underway returning from deployment during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and returned shortly after. Subsequent assignments included the 1st Marine Division staff; the Headquarters Element, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit; Headquarters Battery, 11th Marine Regiment; and the Joint Staff Operations Directorate, U.S. European Command. After his return from Europe, Brian transitioned from active duty to begin a career with the federal government.
While serving in the federal government, Brian has been assigned to New York City, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, the U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany, and various Headquarters tours in the Washington, DC area. His deployment locations have included Iraq, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, the Ukraine, Serbia, Azerbaijan, and Libya.
Brian continues his service in volunteer endeavors as well, providing mentorship and education to members of his church, and as a volunteer board member on the board of directors for his community pool and tennis club. Brian began his involvement with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing as a participant in May 2017, and has been active in program activities at the Fort Belvoir location since joining. In addition to learning all he can about every aspect of fly fishing, he consistently seeks out ways to make new members feel welcome, or to help pass on his knowledge to others.
Travis Vandernerg U.S. Marine Corps | National Capital Region, Quantico Program
Staff Sergeant Travis Vanderberg serves as the Precision Rifle Program Manager, Weapons Training Battalion, Marksmanship Program Marksmanship Section (MPMS), Training Command, Quantico, VA.
Travis was born on 20 December 1983 in Rochester, MN, and raised in nearby Mankato MN where he grew up hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and many other outdoor activities. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in June 2007 at the age of 23. Recruit Vanderberg reported for training on the same month aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA, and subsequently assigned to 3rd Bn, M Co. He graduated in October of 2007 and proceeded to School of Infantry West, for Marine Combat Training.
Following attending Ground Ordnance Machinist School at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, where he earned the Military Occupational Specialty of 2161 Machinist, he was then transferred to Marine Aviation Logistic Squadron Fourteen (MALS-14) Cherry Point NC. Where he served as a Repair Shop Machinist in the Airframes Division. His responsibilities there consisted of manufacturing needed component for the 11 flying Squadrons aboard the air station.
Travis has been a participant with Project Healing Waters for three years. He has been fishing since he was old enough to hold a fishing rod. He started fishing with his grandfather sitting on a dock at camp ground in northern Minnesota. Travis is married to Thea Petzling. They live in Stafford, Virginia.In May 2013, Travis was transferred to Weapons Training Battalion Quantico and assigned to Precision Weapons Section as an instructor for the Precision Weapons Repair Course. Some of his other duties included manufacturing components for the Competition in Arms Weapons used by the Marine Corps Shooting Team. He also manufactured components for the M40A5 and M40A6 Sniper Rifles. In January 2018 he transferred to MPMS where he is the Precision Rifle Program Manager. Currently he is involved in developing institutional training for the Combat Marksmanship order specifically automated targetry and precision weapons training.
Jeremy Bristol U.S. Army | Northern New York Region, Syracuse Program
Jeremy Bristol was born in 1979 in Nebo, NC. Jeremy has always been big for his age and played football in high school…a real bruiser!
After high school, Jeremy graduated McDowell CC with an AA in Graphic Design…then went on to a number of various jobs. He worked as a line chef with Club Med (and still has a flare for cooking), worked as a carpenter, then for a marketing company in Raleigh, NC.
Seeking more stability in his life and work, Jeremy joined the Army in 2007 completing basic training at Ft. Jackson, then finishing AIT at Ft. Meade becoming a psychology operations specialist. He was transferred to Ft. Bragg then deployed to Kinshasa and Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo working as a psych ops specialist. He returned to Ft. Bragg and was honorably discharged in 2012.
While stationed at Ft. Bragg Jeremy met his wife-to-be Maggie (a native of Liverpool, NY). After being discharged from the Army, Jeremy and Maggie moved to Lumberton, NC so Maggie could get student teaching credits, and in 2014 moved to Syracuse, NY.
Jeremy receives 100% disability, and while visiting the Syracuse Veterans’ Medical Center he became acquainted with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. Jeremy pulled on his waders and jumped into the PHWFF waters with gusto! Jeremy has always liked fishing and has become an avid and accomplished flytyer/flyfisherman. His art (graphic design) background gives Jeremy a special capability in all aspects of flytying.
Maggie and Jeremy recently had their first child “Jack.”
The whole Bristol clan now participates in Project Healing Waters events and EVERYONE enjoys the Bristols’ presence.
CPO Brian Carr U.S. Navy | New England Region, Augusta Program
Brian A. Carr was born in Fairfax, Virginia in the summer of 1982. His parents were both postal workers in the surrounding area. His parents separated and his mother took him and his two brothers to a farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Brian graduated from Fauquier High School in 2000. After graduation he work worked on a horse farm and built homes.
In January 2003, Brian proudly joined the word’s finest Navy. He completed basic training and Hospital Corpsman “A” school in the summer June of 2003 and was transferred to the National Naval Medical Center( Walter Reed Military Medical Center) in Bethesda, MD. While stationed in Bethesda we work as a MEDEVAC coordinator and as a corpsman on the surgical ward. Brian worked on the ward where all the combat causalities from Operation Phantom Fury were cared for. This is where Brian decided he needed to transfer to the Fleet Marine Force. In July 2005 Brian attended Field Medical Service School-East at camp Johnson and transferred to the Assault Amphibious Assault Battalion in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Brian married his lovely wife Crystal in the June 2006 before both of their deployments to Iraq. He served as a line corpsman with Bravo Company on their deployment to Fallujah, Iraq in the fall of 2006. Brian was awarded a Navy Achievement Medal with Valor during this deployment and was combat meritoriously advanced to the rank of Petty Officer Second Class due to his actions during the deployment. On 19 DEC 06 Petty Officer Carr was delivering medical supplies to an Iraqi hospital when the vehicle he was in was being engaged by enemy fire and lost control. As a result of the crash HM3 Carr fractured his nose, dislocated his shoulder, fractured his hand and had a
concussion. HM3 Carr lost consciousness but when he awoke he began treating the injured crew of the vehicle while under fire. After the vehicle was recovered and all others were medevaced HM3 Carr treated his wounds and was the last medevaced from the area. He returned home in the spring of 2007 and in 2008 he returned to Iraq as part of Task Force 1/9 as the Senior Line Corpsman to Ramidi, Iraq. His deployment was less eventful than his last while his unit managed the entry control points for the city. When he returned home he transferred to Surface Warfare Medical Institute to attend Independent Duty Corpsman School in San Diego, California. He graduated in 2010 and transferred to 2nd Medical Battalion, Camp Lejenune. He deployed in 2011 to
Camp Leatherneck to work at the combined aid station. He returned again in the winter of 2013 as the Senior Enlisted Leader for a shock trauma platoon in Sangin, Afghanistan. He led over 30 Sailors in the treatment of 75 combat causalities. After returning from his deployment he was transferred to NIOC Sugar Grove, WV and served at the base conservation Officer and fell in love with fly fishing. Petty Officer Carr lived in Harrisonburg, Virginia and began working with PHWFF there. He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer in September 2015 and was transferred to DDG-116 to assist in building a Navy Destroyer. Chief Carr worked with the Tidewater PHWFF group and attended the Back Creek Guide Seminar. Due to his prior experiences Chief Carr assisted the large Tidewater group as a volunteer sometimes so everyone could get a chance to fish.
In April 2017 Brian and his wife Crystal had the greatest achievement of their life by welcoming their son Jameson to the world. Brian and his family are avid anglers and spend as much time on the water together as possible. Chief Carr is set to sail away from Maine in the fall of 2018 to Mayport, Florida to continue his career with the Navy. Chief Carr plans to continue his participation with PHWFF in his new location. He looks forward to sharing his love for fly fishing with new participants he will meet and is thankful that PHWFF is providing him this platform to show others the healing and other positive benefits that this sport can bring to your life.
SGT Robert Gil Jr U.S. ARMY | Southern New York Region / Brooklyn NY program
SGT Robert Gil Jr was born in New York City on July 16th 1985. Raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, SGT Gil, an outstanding citizen from a young age, has stated, “ I always felt the call of service”. Achieving the title of Valedictorian in middle school, a young and academically gifted SGT Gil once hosted a NYC radio show for New York Cities gifted children named NYC KIDS on 92.3 fm. Always the young community activist, SGT Gil’s teenage years were spent selflessly giving to his community. His active participation in various organizations included The NYPD explore Boy Scout program where he rose to become 90th Precinct station commander. Another Program was called LOS SURES social services Inc. where SGT Gil would spend time training his peers in the martial arts as a way to keep his friends off the dangerous streets of Brooklyn. SGT Gil Stated ” many of my friends grew up in domestic violence and homes where drugs were being sold or used, I just wanted to keep them and myself safe if only for an hour or 2”.
When 9/11 happened. Sgt Gil witness first hand the effects it has on his city. Sgt Gil’s high school was in Manhattan an stated he couldn’t forget the sense of fear that griped not only his school staff and his friends, but the entire city and vowed to join the army as soon as he could.
Sgt Gil served his country from 2003-2010, Honorably, while being deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Primarily a Cavalry Scout, Sgt Gil was apart of many historic battles, such as the taking of Tal Afar, Mosul and Ramadi from 2005-2007. SGT Gil and his story of battlefield heroism has been published by the like Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. A documentary also aired on Netflix about the war and his recovery from a IED that left him with PTSD and TBI. During his military career, SGT Robert Gil was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Badge The Prestigious Purple Heart, for wounds sustained during enemy contact, the Bronze star with Valor, and the Army Commendation medal with Valor The latter for disregarding his own life and safety in order to save the lives of his squad members during and enemy ambush in Ramadi, 2006.
After returning home from his service to his country. Sgt Gil began to suffer from extreme bouts of depression and PTSD. After a short time, cognitive skills began to deteriorate due to the TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) he sustained in combat. Feeling isolated, broken and hopeless, Sgt Gil nearly became a statistic of the 22 veterans who loose their battle each day. Everything changed from him as he states “ through Project Healing Waters, I have been able to find peace , love and purpose. When the times get rough, I win the battle by remembering the last trout I caught and who I was with. I remember that I am not alone.
Since joining healing waters in 2010, Sgt Gil has gone through a miraculous journey of healing that includes starting as a participant who in his own words “ what is a fly? “ to becoming a fantastic angle, with accomplishments such as winning a fishing tournament know as the Manhattan cup. SGT Gil s now the Program Lead in Brooklyn NY, for Project Healing Waters. He routinely drives 2 hours each way, from his home in Pennsylvania to be able to give back. When you ask him why? Or how can he manage such commitment he will respond “ the greatest thing I can ever do is pass on this shred of hope, that PHWFF has given me. I didn’t know how beautiful my country was. I grew up in a concrete jungle. Through fly-fishing I explored and remembered just what it was that I was fighting for. I learned that there exists a place where the waters heal, the country is beautiful and the relationships built on the streams are worthwhile. Each day that I’m here, that is one more life I can show the other way. I could have been there day to quit. No one should have to carry his or her burden of war alone. I want to be there for them like PHWFF was there for me.”
It is through the tremendous charity of sponsors like BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Golden Corral, Microsoft, the USO, Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, The Orvis Company and the Town of Bridgewater that we were able to provide our unique brand of healing to over 8,400 deserving members of our armed services in 2017 alone.
The business community of Bridgewater, Virginia has long embraced our cause and supported this special annual event too. It is through community and mutual support that many of our veteran participants find their healing path. Special thanks are due to local sponsors Steven Toyota, Harrisonburg Honda, and Bob Wade Subaru,; and the friends of the Mossy Creek Invitational: Engineering Solutions, LD&B Insurance and Financial Services, Valley Roofing, 1st Care Orthopedics, Integrity Home Mortgage, Smithfield Foods, Media Two Interactive, and Vannoy & Associates. We thank you for continuously championing our cause and embracing the veterans we serve in your great, patriotic community.
To see more about this special event, watch the video of The 10th Annual Mossy Creek Invitational below: