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Veterans, volunteers, and celebrities from across the country will gather at Rose River Farm in Syria, Virginia on April 29 – 30, 2017 for the 11th Annual 2-Fly Tournament benefiting Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc (PHWFF) and the thousands of disabled veterans the organization serves each year.  Now entering it’s second decade as the flagship fundraiser for PHWFF, the 2-Fly Tournament has provided vital support for this top-tier Veterans Service Organization and served to raise awareness for it’s remarkable contributions towards the recovery and rehabilitation of those who have made great sacrifices in the service of our nation.  There are many ways to help support this great annual event which provides vital funding and awareness for our cause and the disabled veterans we serve.  Click here for a few ways you can help and get involved at home.

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 11th Annual 2-Fly Tournament to you:

SSG (ret) Brian McGough, U.S. Army
brian-mcgough1Brian McGough joined the Army in 1995 and began a career as a Forward Observer. In 2000, Brian deployed to Kosovo in support of the United Nations peacekeeping mission and logged numerous hours on patrol in the American sector. In 2001, he deployed to Afghanistan, where he provided support during intense ground combat in March 2002 and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. In 2003, Brian again deployed for the initial invasion of Iraq, was wounded by a roadside bomb while there, and then spent several months recovering at Walter Reed and battling the effects of both traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Brian joined VoteVets.org in 2006 and worked with members of Congress to ensure that combat troops and veterans were granted the benefits they deserved. In 2009, he took the expertise he gained on Capitol Hill and joined the Department of Veterans Affairs where he worked with members of Congress and on behalf of homeless veterans. Brian is currently a stay-at home parent who enjoys fly-fishing and Brazilian jiu jitsu in his spare time.  Brian’s wife, Kayla Williams, is also a combat veteran who wrote a book about her journey through Brian’s recovery titled “Plenty of Time When We Get Home”. She currently serves as the Director for VA’s Center for Women Veterans.

Brian currently participates with the PHWFF Fort Belvoir, VA Program and lives in the Washington, DC area with Kayla and their 2 children.

SGT (ret) Bill Braniff, U.S. Army | Vietnam
bill-braniff-1Bill Braniff is a Canadian citizen living in Maine who enlisted in 1964 after prior service in the Canadian Army.  After traveling to Buffalo, NY he was sent to Fort Dix, NJ where he went through Infantry Basic School and AIT.  In November, 2967, following time spent at Fort Dix, Bill was assigned to the 229th Combat Unit, Supply Division at Vung Tau.  He was in the 90th Replacement Depot in Long Binh awaiting orders when the Tet Offensive began.  They were pinned down for four days as the enemy had come through the barracks throwing sachel charges in.  Four guys in his barracks were wounded.  He was reassisnged to the 25th Infantry Division, as a PFC, and within four months he was an acting Sergeant, Squad Leader.  During this time he started out as an ammo bearer, assistant MG’er, Platoon RTO, and one of two Company tunnel Rats. He was wounded twice and treated in the field. Prior to going to his Unit, which was A Co 2/12, 25th ID, he became lost on his first day in the field and ended up with A Co 1/27th Wolf Hounds for five weeks before getting back to his Unit. Bill was also wounded there, although minor.  Bill finished his Service in Ft Carson with A 3/11 5th Mechanized Infantry. He was CBR NCO until his ETS in July 1969 and was Honorably Discharged with Rank of Sergeant E5 and was awarded a CIB, Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medals. Following service, Bill made over fifty trips to Vietnam looking for information on POWs and MIA’s, and looking for a guy in my squad who was MIA: Gene Handrahan. MIA on 10/10/1968.

Bill currently lives in Maine with his American wife and they have three grown children.  He is eager to continue learning to fly fish and actively participates with the PHWFF Bangor, Maine Program.

SPC (ret) Randall Steiger, U.S. Army | Iraq
spc-randall-steigerRandall Steiger was born into an Air Force family at Warner Robins Air Force Base Georgia.  After traveling the world for some 15 years he landed in Cheyenne Wyoming.  In 2003, Randall enlisted in the Army as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle systems maintainer and underwent One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Fort Knox Kentucky.  After graduating he was assigned to Fort Irwin CA as permanent Opposing Forces (OPFOR).  While serving as OPFOR he took part in numerous training operations for deploying units.  In 2005 he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a line team mechanic and recovery specialist for Golf Troop, 1st squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Blackhorse.  Randall became a participant in PHWFF in 2013.  Living in Wyoming, he has had access some of the most beautiful Rocky Mountain waters to learn the art of fly fishing.  It has given him the outlet he needs to become more mindful and relaxed.  When approached to take part in a short film contest on the healing of fly fishing in 2015, Randall was happy to tell his story in order to give back and create awareness for those returning warriors who may benefit from the magic of fly fishing.

While relatively new to the sport of fly fishing, Randall has continually volunteered to take participants on single and multi-day trips with PHWFF Programs.  As a graduate of Sweetwater Fly Fishing Guide school in Montana, he has expanded his knowledge and experience to rowing some of the bigger rivers in the mountain area, most notably the Bighorn River, Yellowstone River, North Platte (Casper and Saratoga) and was even honored to have the opportunity to guide for Ed Nicholson on the Clarks Fork near St Regis MT.

“While fishing one day, one of my fishing mentors, Roger Thimm said, ‘Helping helps me’.  I didn’t quite understand what he meant until I assisted a fellow Veteran in landing his first fish on a fly.  I almost enjoy guiding now as much as I like fishing!”

SGT (ret) Rob McKennan, U.S. Army
rob-mckennanRob McKennan separated from the US Army in 1998 after 8.5 years as a Military Police Officer.  After the military, he began working as a police officer for several local Colorado agencies. 16  months of that was spent on a task force that investigated child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence. He currently works at USAA as an injury claims adjuster where he investigates and resolves injury accident claims.  Rob had wanted to start fly fishing but did not have an opportunity to do so until he joined PHWFF.  Being a disabled veteran himself, Rob has been motivated to help veterans and soldiers less fortunate than him.  Understanding firsthand the value of fly fishing, his involvement with PHWFF has become a perfect mix to promote PHEFF to  service members and veterans in need through his contact with them at his current job with USAA, or meeting them in public or other events.

Rob currently serves as the Special Events Coordinator for the Rocky Mountain South Region of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF).  He began working with PHWFF as a participant and quickly wanted to start volunteering. He started working as the Special Events Coordinator as well as maintaining the web site and social media. He now acts as a trip planner and trip lead as we as taking care of special events.

Rob lives in Colorado Springs, CO where he lives with his wife, 6 year old daughter and his 4 year old twins (boy and a girl). When he isn’t spending time with his family he is either doing woodworking, fishing or tying flies. He has even gotten his 6 year old daughter to tie flies

CPT (ret) Beth Steinberger, U.S. Army
beth-steinberger-2Beth Steinberger was born and raised just outside West Point, NY. This influence, and a strong family history of military service, made choosing the Army a place to learn and practice Internal Medicine.  Fly fishing has become a wonderful creative and therapeutic outlet for Beth.  It is something that challenges all the deficits she has with tasks such as tying flies to casting. It is through PHWFF that Beth found a new lifelong sport that is both fulfilling and enjoyable.  One of the best things Beth enjoys about PHWFF is the camaraderie with other servicemen and women, and the patient, engaging and caring atmosphere that is provided by all the talented and gracious volunteers who make it all possible.

Beth currently participates with the PHWFF Walter Reed Program.

PO2 (ret) Daphne Zencey, U.S. Coast Guard
daphne-zencey-2Daphne Zencey is originally from a small town in Vermont. She has always appreciated and enjoyed spending time outside, surrounded by the mountains or the lakes and rivers. Daphne joined the Coast Guard in 2003 and considers it to be one of the best decisions she’s made in her 34 years. At that time in her life she had taken some time off from school and was looking for something bigger and more important to be a part of. She was especially drawn to the Search and Rescue side of the Coast Guard and knew that she wanted to be a small boat coxswain. Following basic training, Daphne was stationed at a small boat station in Narragansett, RI where she learned the basics of being an effective boat crew member, assisting with SAR and Maritime Law Enforcement. Daphne then went to Yorktown, VA for Boatswains Mate A School and was stationed in the Bay of San Francisco. While in California as a BM3 and then BM2 she became a Duty Coxswain for both SAR and training as well as a Boarding Officer, conducting Federal Law Enforcement. As a Search and Rescue first responder, Daphne was frequently in charge and making the calls in life and death situations.

Daphne became interested in fly fishing after leaving the Coast Guard but was never given ample opportunity to really get involved.  In 2016, she began looking for ways to get involved with a Veterans organization. “I wanted and needed something to be a part of again, and the camaraderie that seems to come naturally when engaging and spending time with other Veterans. It took me awhile to find it, but Project Healing Waters was a natural fit for everything I was looking for.”  Daphne has been able to once again connect with people who know what it’s like to be a part of something bigger than yourself, while finding peace and solace in the zen-like aspects of fly fishing, all while being able to surround herself with the sounds and smells of the rivers and lakes again.

Daphne currently participates with the PHWFF Fort Belvoir, VA Program.

SPC (ret) Joshua Gerasimof, U.S. Army | Kosovo
joshua-gerasimof-2From 1998 to 2001, Joshua Gerasimof served in the US Army as a machine gunner with the 3/504 Parachute Infantry Regiment within the 82nd Airborne Division. While serving with the 82nd Airborne, his unit was deployed to Kosovo in Operation Joint Guardian from 1999 to 2000. After sustaining injuries which led to his discharge, he took on the personal challenge to thru-hike the 2,175 mile Appalachian Trail in 2005 as a way to find his own path to recovery. Through this journey Joshua was able to connect with other veterans who have had similar readjustment struggles back to the civilian world. These connections encouraged him to find his purpose and to define his new mission of helping other veterans.  Since that long journey in the mountains, Josh has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Adventure Education and Wilderness Leadership and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Johnson State College in 2012. Currently he is a Certified Veteran Peer Support Specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs.   Josh has continued to work with his fellow comrades in non-traditional forms of treatment. Josh also currently serves as the Program Lead for Green Mountain Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. This program in particular has helped Josh to connect to Veterans on a deeper level. Additionally, he is Burlington CBOC’s Team Coach that takes a team of once wounded Veterans to participate in the National Disable Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Colorado.  Josh encourages his fellow Veterans to think about how to find their own path to recovery and has been able to provide veterans with life changing experiences through Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.

During his free time Josh can be found along the banks of the Brewster River in Jeffersonville Vermont, teaching his two adventurous and curious boys, Kannon and Everett to fly fish while his lovely wife, Rebecca relaxes on shore.

CPL (ret) Jim Graham, U.S. Army
jim-graham2Jim Graham served in the U.S. Army from 1974 – 1977 (active) and 1977 – 1980 (inactive).  He was stationed at Ft. Lewis Washington, home of the 9th. Infantry Division, Combat Support Company 2/1 Recon/Scout Platoon.

“In 1976 I was a range instructor on a M-203 range.   The range adjacent to mine was in control and shifted fire 30 degrees in the wrong direction.  My range took about a 2000 rounds of   M-16 fire. Everyone was down in fox holes, but, being the range instructor, I was the only one standing. I was shot in my left flank. I had six high explosive rounds strapped to my waist. I’ve always had nightmares of me turning into a red puff of smoke. The bullet was removed one year later due to infection in my stomach.  One week after being shot I was due to go to primary noncommissioned officers candidate school to be promoted to Sargent. Due to injuries I was assigned as assistant company armor and drive for the company’s first sergeant.  Upon return from a field training exercise the first Sargent and I were cleaning the vehicle and the vehicle was tipped over and I was hit and sustained a concussion and a crushed wrist. I was also involved in a major automobile accident and my best friend passed away in my arms. Being his squad leader I always felt guilty for him losing his life.

After being discharged from the Army I struggled with life.  I never felt like I fit in and felt like I was a loser. I struggled with addiction for many years. I never felt safe.   38 years later life got really bad for me and I went back to the VA for help and I found this amazing place that is willing to help. I’ve received a rating 100% and been under their care. I am really involved with volunteer work and my passion is helping other veterans. Several years ago a friend in my PTSD group told me about PHWFF. My first thought was they don’t want anything to do with me (I’m not good enough) and I was pleasantly surprised at the love and support I got from the vets and the volunteers. Quickly my guard was down and I started getting excited and involved in this wonderful program. I feel a great sense of freedom from my personal demons. This program has taught me the feeling of being safe and that everything is OK. I’ve been on several trips and every time I come home I feel a great deal of personal growth.   Recently I’ve learned catching a fish is only a bonus. I get so much healing from the love and support I receive from the group.  I feel safe and everything is OK. Thank you, PHWFF you’ve changed my life.”

Jim currently participates with the PHWFF Long Beach, CA Program.

SPC Lee Barbee, U.S. Army | Afghanistan
lee-barbee-4Lee Barbee was born in Macon, Georgia and spent 7 years in the U.S. Army with an MOS of 68W (Medic).  Lee served along great Infantrymen in 2-8IN, 2BCT, 4ID, at Fort Carson, CO, with a tour down range to RC South Afghanistan. He started in tour in Kandahar province finishing tour in Mya Neshin Province. And served as an Eastern Equine Encephalitis protocol assistant for Division of Medicine at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease.

 “PHWFF has become a major part of my life. The sense of comradery amongst volunteers and participants alike made me feel at home.  After working with volunteers Al Warner, Ted, Cryblskey, Kiki Galvin, Carl Smolka, Hank Pilcher, and Dick Buback, I immediately began to feel part of a family. They took me in under their wing and showed me a different path to healing. Teaching me the techniques of fly tying and fly fishing gave me a sense of peace that I never felt before. I’m thankful to continue to be a part of this program and amazing organization. I hope to give back to the program and help other veterans. This will be my first time in my two years of participating to be able to be part of the 2-Fly Tournament.”

Lee is currently a student at Montgomery College and majoring in Life Sciences.  He plans to move to California to attend the University of California, Davis to obtain an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and aims to become a Physician Assistant and health care provider.

Lee currently lives in Gaithersburg, MD with his wife Cassandra and their beautiful, intelligent 3 year old daughter Natalie. He actively participates with PHWFF Walter Reed Program.

GySgt (ret) Mike Doyle, USMC | Desert Shield, Desert Storm
mike-doyle-pictureMike Doyle served in the U.S. Marine Corps from June 1975 – February 1993.  He was in the 1st Marine Division, 2nd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Air Wing, 4th Marine Air Wing, 2nd Force Service Support Group and the 3rd Force Service Support Group.  Mike started out as a 2531 Radio Operator and retired as a 2591 Communications Chief with the rank of Gunnery Sergeant. He was deployed for Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 thru April 1991 and has an additional 10 years of deployments from Europe to South West Asia. Mike was diagnosed with eye disease 24 years ago in 1992.  Before his blindness he was an avid hunter and outdoorsman.  Today, he is still an avid outdoorsman and hunter.  “I do NOT consider my blindness as a disability, but rather I think of it as an inconvenience and an obstacle to overcome.”  He enjoys target shooting with handguns, rifles, shotguns, muzzle loaders and archery.  Mike also hunts, fishs, hikes, bikes, camps, rock wall climb, snow ski, snow shoe, snowmobile, jet ski, scuba dive, snorkel, kayak, paddle board and white water raft.  In the past year he has learned to tie flies, build a fly rod, and learned to fly fish with the help of Project Healing Waters volunteers.  “I believe that I can do whatever I set my mind to.  All I need is a chance.”

Mike became involved with PHWFF in April 2015 and since that time, Project Healing Waters has opened a whole new world up for him.  “I am still a novice fly fisherman but I enjoy it so much that I now wonder why I didn’t start fly fishing at an earlier age.  Just think of the years I wasted NOT fly fishing.”

“Project Healing Waters has showed me that there are people who care about veterans and can offer us someone to talk to outside of a clinical/sterile setting.  Where we can be free to be ourselves and bond with others (both civilians and veterans alike) doing something that is relaxing, calming and soothing to and for the mind, body and soul.  Besides, there are oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers and streams full of fish that I have to catch, meet and release.”

Mike Doyle currently lives in Roanoke, VA and actively participates with the PHWFF Roanoke/New River Valley Program.

CPL (ret) James Reed, USMC | Iraq
reed_pic-2James Reed was born in East Tennessee.   As a young boy, he was able to spend time outdoors, exploring nature, learning about the wildlife and most of all, finding a lifelong love of fishing.  In 2003, James graduated from Sullivan East in Bluff City.  During his HS years, he played football and participated in wrestling where he placed third in the State Championship and was nationally ranked. In 2004, James enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and graduated from Paris Island.  He was then trained as a machine gunner and assigned to 2nd Battalion, Weapons Plt., Easy Co., 2nd Marines. James served in combat operations in the Al-Anbar Province in Iraq.  During his first tour, he was wounded by an IED as sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury.  He was able to complete his tour and an additional tour in 2006.  Eventually, he was medically retired from the Marines in 2008.

James was introduced to fly fishing and shortly thereafter, was participating in Project Healing Waters.  He immersed himself into the program and fly fishing.  His future goal is to guide people on the local creeks and rivers and continue to volunteer with the program, helping other Veterans.

James currently participates with the PHWFF Johnson City, TN Program

SFC (ret) Rick Warrington, U.S. Army
rick-warringtonRick Warrington is a U.S. Army veteran who has been participating in Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing since a PCS to Fort Belvoir in August of 2015. Rick has spent time in Southeast Asia, Asia, the Pacific, Central America, South America and Europe. Other than his Physical Therapy and Aquatic Therapy each week, he leaves the house to enjoy PHWFF with the Fort Belvoir & Quantico PHWFF Programs. Rick was always an active person having practiced and taught Kendo and Iaido (Japanese fencing and swordsmanship) for 35 years. As an avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed mountain and rock climber, along with sky and scuba diving. Now his mobility is at a minimum due to neurological and muscular problems. His specialist doctors were amazed with the improvement in his finger, hand and arm dexterity after only one year of fly tying, rod building and casting practice.

Rick is proudest of the fact that somehow he talked his Army nurse into a date. They are still married and his wife, Heidi, will retire from 35 years of Active Duty this May. Rick has four children with the two oldest sons now Army vets themselves. The youngest is getting his Experimental Physics PhD.  His daughter, a ceramic artist and teacher, married a Scout with the 101st Airborne that they lost to Iraq and PTSD (suicide). Rick hates the fact that an average of 22 vets commit suicide each day and wants everyone to try and help, knowing first-hand about the pain and damage it inflicts on a family.

Rick really believes in the therapeutic values of fly tying and fly fishing so much that he asks other patients to come every time he has his physical therapy at Belvoir Hospital. Rick tries to pass along all he has learned to the new participants. He wants to start a PHWFF Program in Waterloo, Iowa, where they will retire and he looks forward to teaching fly fishing to his granddaughter who lives there.

“The Fort Belvoir & Quantico Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Programs are a fantastic group of people that welcomed me from day one. I cannot thank our Leads, Assistants, Guides, Teachers and Volunteers enough for what they have done for me and my family.”

For a over a decade Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF)  has focused on healing those who serve.  It is through the tremendous contributions of our volunteers and supporters nationwide that last year we served over 7500 deserving members of our armed services.   The 11th Annual 2-Fly Tournament will serve to raise funds to provide veterans with the support they need on their journeys to recovery as we continue in our second decade of service.  Learn more