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Phil Johnson Exceptional Leadership Award

The Volunteer Excellence Award authorized by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force is designed to recognize federal civilians, family members, military retirees, and federal retirees who perform outstanding volunteer community service. To be eligible, an individual’s service has to be performed either in the local civilian community or in the military family community, and be of a sustained and direct nature and is considered a “life-time” award. It is with great pleasure that we announce that David Rooker received this award at the JBER Annual Recognition Ceremony on April 16th.

David Rooker and Leslie Holland-Bartels

David has guided the beginning fly tying portion of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing-Anchorage for a decade, volunteering nearly 400 hours in 2018 adding to his +1600 hours since 2011. His hours of volunteerism alone don’t come close to illustrating his impact on the disabled and injured. His knowledge, openness to share, and quiet, self-effacing manner always do the trick. Whether the participant is struggling with PTSD, TBI, or a suite of other challenges, David is there to help guide the impatient, the coordination challenged, or the participant who just needs to know they can master a new skill or regain a lost one.   At the tying table he chats about getting out fishing on lakes and the joy and adventures he gains from fly fishing. As a retiree from USAF he chats easily about military life and shares and listens to stories. David makes fly tying approachable by working slowly, step by step through early skill development and is the first one to laugh at his own mistakes. He carries all of these skills over to the Fisher House on JBER every Wednesday evening as well to help those families take their minds off of their medical worries just for a time.


David Rooker is skilled, kind-hearted, approachable, and committed to the long haul. These are the gifts his volunteerism gives to the men and women of JBER and the disabled veterans of Anchorage who hope fly fishing will help them find a way back to health.