Meet the Veteran Participants for the 10th Annual 2-Fly Tournament
The 10th Annual 2-fly Tournament will be a special celebration of our past decade of service and an opportunity to further forge our mark on the decades to come; providing our unique form of therapy to the countless more deserving men and women who have served, and sacrificed for our nation. As such, the 10th Annual 2-Fly Tournament Veteran Participants will be PHWFF 2-Fly Alumni from the past decade who have been immersed and strengthened by our healing waters. It is our distinct pleasure to introduce them to you.
The 10th Annual PHWFF 2-Fly Tournament is being held April 30 – May 1, 2016 at Rose River Farm in Syria, Virginia. The tournament pairs PHWFF Veteran Participants from around the country with a top industry professionals 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 Participants for the 10th Annual 2-Fly Tournament to you:
SGT (ret.) J.R Salzman
US Army National Guard | Iraq
1st Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
J.R. Salzman was a member of the Minnesota Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2006. SGT Salzman was leading a fuel convoy through Baghdad on December 19, 2006 when his humvee was struck by an EFP. He lost his right arm below the elbow, suffered severe shrapnel damage to his left hand, and sustained a traumatic brain injury. SGT Salzman spent the better part of 2007 recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. During his recovery he became active with Project Healing Waters and relearned how to fly fish and tie flies with a prosthetic arm. SGT Salzman credits Project Healing Waters with helping him throughout his recovery.
After retiring from the military he returned to Wisconsin where he earned a bachelor’s degree in technology education. He returned to competing in professional lumberjack sports, earning his tenth log rolling world title despite the loss of one arm. He currently runs his own small business reclaiming fallen urban trees and manufacturing them into slabs, lumber, and furniture.
CPT Rob Burke
New York Army National Guard | Iraq/Afghanistan
2nd Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
CPT Rob Burke grew up in Rochester, New York and joined the Army after College in 2005. He commissioned as an Infantry Officer and after completing Ranger school was assigned Fort Drum, NY. Rob deployed to Iraq in 2007 as a Platoon Leader with Charlie Company, 1-87INF, 10th Mountain. His Unit was stationed at an outlying Patrol Base in Northern Iraq. On the 2nd of February 2008, while conducting a night raid, Rob suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his leg, torso, and shoulder. Rob spent 11 months between Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the West Point Warrior Transition Unit undergoing intensive physical therapy where he was able to recover well enough to return to his unit and complete a deployment to Northern Afghanistan from 2010-2011. Rob left the active Army in 2011 and joined the New York National Guard, currently assigned as a training Officer at the 106th RTI, Officer Candidate School, Camp Smith NY. Rob was the founding volunteer with the Fort Drum PHWFF Chapter and served as the a Program Leader from 2009-2011. Rob is currently a member/ veterans ambassador for the as the Syracuse PHWFF Chapter. Rob’s military awards include the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star Medal (2), the Purple Heart, Ranger Tab and numerous others.
TSGT (ret.) Shaun Meadows
US Air Force | Afghanistan
3rd Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
Shaun Meadows was raised in Athens Georgia. I am married to Nicole Meadows raised in Kansas City, Kansas. I have one son Trevor Meadows. I enlisted in the Air Force in May 2002 as a combat controller. Was stationed at Hurlburt Field FL and McChord AFB WA where I achieved the rank E-6. I became a trans-femoral bilateral amputee while serving in southern Afghanistan on Jul 31 2008 due to a pressure plate IED. While doing rehab at WRAMC was introduced to fly fishing by Project healing waters and have been fly fishing ever since.
SGT (ret.) Keith Gilbert
US Army | Iraq
4th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
I was born and raised in Gainesville, Georgia. I joined the Army in September 2006 as a Cavalry Scout. After completing Airborne School, I was stationed in the 1st Squadron, 40th Calvary Regiment, 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Richardson, Alaska. I deployed to Iraq from September 2006 until November 2007. During this deployment we did reconnaissance patrols thru Baghdad. I was involved in many fire fights, IED’s, and VBIED’S. I received multiple injuries, and my Squadron took many casualties. After returning to Alaska, I went to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Reconnaissance Company, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I deployed back to Iraq from November 2008 until November 2009.
After returning from my second deployment I was tested for PTSD and TBI. After being tested I was sent to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC. I was a patient there from March until November 2010. While there I became very depressed and had given up on just about everything. I was going down the wrong road and became a lonely alcoholic. I stayed in my room and had no social life or friends.
I guess you could say that I stumbled upon Project Healing Waters. One day I was walking through Walter Reed Medical Center and saw some people out front casting fly rods. I stopped to watch and the next thing I know, they had a rod in my hand and was showing me how to cast. After just one day casting, I was hooked! It was the people as much as the fishing that I liked. The volunteers were never pushy and I could tell that they really cared about us and about fly fishing. I finally had something to look forwards to each week, and something to think about besides all the bad thoughts brought on by my PTSD.
The casting practice and the fly tying helped me with my TBI by challenging me to use my hands and improving my damaged motor skills. I started going on local fishing trips and that got me to go back out in public and to step out of my comfort zone. The camaraderie with the volunteers and other soldiers in the program was something that I needed, but something that the hospital couldn’t prescribe. Project Healing Waters took me from being someone who would not go anywhere during the day, to spending ten days in Kodiak, Alaska.
I then spent two years at Ft. Gordon in Augusta, Georgia waiting for my Medical Retirement. From there I spent four months in the Augusta VA’s Polytrama Unit. I had not been fishing during this time and I was on seventeen prescriptions. Once I returned home, I couldn’t wait to get back to fishing. I contacted my closest Project Healing Water volunteer and we have been fishing ever since. Since I have started back fishing, I currently take no medications. If I’m not fishing, I am tying flies. Fly fishing is my coping skill that I use to deal with life and my injuries.
After experiencing what Project Healing Waters and fly fishing has done for me, all I want to do is give back. I am also guiding on local streams and rivers. I am part of The Goodwill Guides, which is a non profit organization that offers to take disabled veterans and teach them how to tournament fly fish and how to be a guide. So we are not only teaching them the joy and healing that fly fishing can bring, but also give them the knowledge and gear so they can continue to fish once there back at home. And I hope that they will have the burning desire that I have, to help get disabled veterans on the water with a fly rod in their hands!
Technical Sergeant (ret.) Chris Frost
US Air Force | Iraq
5th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
Sergeant Frost grew up in Campbell, California and, after college at California State University Chico, joined the US Air Force in 1996. He was trained as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialist and had assignments in Utah, California, Maryland, Korea and England. Sergeant Frost deployed as the Team Leader for Weapons Intelligence Team One in 2007, his team had the responsibilities for sensitive site exploitation, post-blast investigation, forensic evidence collection and counter IED intelligence. On 18 May 2008, while on a combat mission, Sergeant Frost’s vehicle was struck by a large deep-buried IED resulting in Sergeant Frost losing both legs below the knee, additionally here was one soldier killed and two others who required amputations. Sent to Walter Reed for medical care, he met his future wife, Catherine, an Army soldier who was battling the effects of pancreatic cancer. He lives with his wife, who is now retired from the Army, in Fairfax, VA with their daughter, Chloe. Sergeant Frost retired from the Air Force in October 2012 and took a government job with a defense agency. He was selected as one of the Department of Defense Outstanding Employee with a Disability for 2014. His military awards include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Combat Action Medal and numerous others. He is featured the book All the Ways We Kill and Die by Brian Castner a narrative non-fiction account of tracking down terrorist bomb makers.
SGT (ret.) Larry Fivecoats
US Army | Vietnam
6th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
I joined the Army as Airborne Infantry fall of 1965, and upon completion of Army Airborne School I was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade for a tour of duty in Viet Nam March 66-67 with the 1st Battalion 503 Infantry. My tour of Vietnam included operations Rolling Thunder, Aurora, Junction City, War Zone D, and Hobo Woods. Next duty assignment was to the 101st Airborne at Ft Campbell, KY. In the fall of ’67 the 101st deployed as a full unit to Viet Nam. I was asked to return with the unit to Viet Nam to help with training and guidance, but I declined. I joined the 82nd Airborne at Ft Bragg NC in ’68. I then re-enlisted in December ’69, joining the Special Forces school at Ft Bragg, NC. In February of that year I was injured during a training jump and spent 6 months in and out but attached to Womack Army Hospital on base and released from duty and the Army in September ’70.
I had been involved with the PHWFF program in Denver, CO for over five years. I learned to tie flies and build fly rods through their weekly meetings and have attended many of their fishing outings. For the past three years I’ve led the fly tying class at the PTSD Clinic at the Denver VAMC. I was mentored by PHWFF volunteer Bob Province for several years before he passed away. This program means the world to me and has helped me out in so many ways!
SSG (ret.) Rhonda Burleson
US Army | Afghanistan
7th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
My family has been in Western North Carolina for many generations. I am Rhonda Christine Burleson, daughter of Carl Donald Burleson, General Manager Of Biltmore Estate, deceased, and Kay, homemaker. I joined the Army in 1983 as a Military Policeman & Corrections. Stationed in Kansas, Korea, and Kandahar. Also in Boone, North Carolina as a National Guard Recruiter. I have 2 AS degrees and a BS in Health and Wellness. Army Achievements – SWAT, developed 1st minimum security facility for female military offenders, NBC NCO, RRT, and Enemy Prisoner of War Guard, Kandahar 2002. Was activated Christmas Eve 2001. Living in hometown of Asheville, North Carolina since returning from war.
Capt (ret.) Kimberly Ramona Smith
USMC | Afghanistan
8th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
Kim was born in Granada Hills, CA. She was raised by a single Mother and her Grandparents. Since the age of 10, her dream was to follow in her Father’s footsteps and to become a U.S. Marine. Her Father passed away when she was 10 and he had served in the Korean War, becoming a POW and earning a Purple Heart.
Being the first to attend and graduate college in her family, while working a 40hr week job. Capt Kimberly Ramona Smith graduated from Texas A&M University in 2004 and commissioned in the United States Marine Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant.
Capt Smith has spent the last three years in recovery from combat related injuries. During the early stages of her treatment God blessed her with Shian, her service dog. Through the dedication and training of K-9 Navigators and its director Mr. Mike Sergeant, Shian was carefully trained to meet Kim’s specific needs. It was during this time that Kim found Project Healing Waters. This program literally helped to save her life, and continues to impact her life daily. Both Kim and Shian are members of Ft. Belvoir and Quantico Project Healing Waters Chapters.
Today Capt Smith continues her recovery with daily and weekly therapies focusing on her speech, physical limitations, occupational rehabilitation, psychological strengthening, and neurological repair and stimulation and other medical conditions. Her current goals are to be a strong mother and to continue volunteering for Project Healing Waters. Kim wants to help change and improve lives, inspire those who are struggling to find hope, and to help make a difference each day the way Project Healing Waters has done for her. Capt Smith has found her motivation for healing through fly-fishing, fly tying, woodworking, volunteering, and most of all her spouse and son Jacob Wallace.
Capt Smith retired from the Marine Corps 29 Nov 2015. Although retirement cut short her dream and continues to be a very difficult reality to embrace, Kim is moving forward with cautious hope that she will find a purpose as professionally and personally fulfilling as being a U.S. Marine. In 2009, she was the first female to be deployed with an infantry Battalion. May 2009- Jan 2010 1st Lt Smith was deployed to Helmand Provence Afghanistan. Having been severely wounded in service, very few know the magical power of fly-fishing better than Kim. She credits it with literally saving her life. Kim is an active ambassador for Project Healing Waters, which is a corporate partner of Able Women and dedicated to helping wounded military veterans recover from physical and emotional scars of battle. Capt Smith is also an ambassador of Able Women a public outreach initiative designed to spread the word about fly-fishing and the many emotional, physical and spiritual benefits it brings to women.
Deep appreciation goes out to all who give their time and resources to help wounded warriors like Kim. These selfless individuals make an immeasurable difference in the lives of those in need and often make the most unbearable days far more manageable. Without question the team at Project Healing Waters has contributed to Kim’s recovery and in a very profound way pushing her off a course of despair and filling her outlook with hope, purpose, and friendship. She is focused on giving back even though she is still in recovery herself. Project Healing Waters works because it believes in and empowers its Warriors and has a genuine appreciation for what they are going through.
God Bless and Semper Fi
Captain Kimberly Smith USMC RET and Shian Service Dog USMC
CPT (ret.) Alvin Shell
US Army | Iraq
9th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
Alvin Shell and his Wife Danielle are Fredericksburg Virginia residents and the parents of three sons. Sean is a student at Cornell University, Alvin III is a senior in High school and plans to study Forensic Science at Delaware State University, and Jachin is a middle School student and a judo practitioner who has received medals in multiple competitions. Danielle is an accomplished Chef in Fredericksburg Virginia. Alvin is a Physical Security Specialist for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC and enjoys volunteering his time with nonprofit organizations like the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) and Tempered Steel. Alvin was featured in the MacMillan River Adventures TV show last year and the Grateful Nation TV show (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz_yxMRYZFc ) in 2014. Alvin has been featured in in two books (http://www.americanvalor.net/heroes/404 & http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-312-65855-7 ) and multiple articles to include a front page article in the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star (http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/burned-officer-is-living-example-of-courage/article_e1d994cd-4f5d-5af6-b50c-bbfbdbdcfd45.html ) which told about President Obama lauding Alvin’s accomplishments in Iraq can be viewed here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4514303/alvin-shell
Alvin is a 100% disabled veteran that sustained multiple injuries in 2004 while rescuing a fellow soldier during an ambush in Iraq. Alvin began his Army career as an enlisted soldier then was later commissioned through Officer Candidate School to become an Airborne Officer in Ft Bragg NC. Alvin was medically retired at the rank of Captain. Despite his injuries Alvin finished a triathlon in 2012 in California, he ran the Army 10 miler in 2014, and completed another triathlon in Washington DC in 2015. As the son of a school teacher and a law enforcement officer, he learned the value of a strong work ethic at a very early age. Alvin attributes every accomplishment in his life to his faith, his parents Alvin and Mable Shell, and the values they instilled in him. He has always had a love for the outdoors but only fell in love with fly fishing three years ago during a trip to Idaho. Alvin later joined the Ft Belvoir program of Project Healing Waters which fostered a better understanding of the sport and the addiction was born.
SSG (ret.) George Draper
6th Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
I was born in Maine and grew up in a little town called Greene. I served in the Army 1977-1984. I was stationed at Ft. Devens, MA with the 39th Combat Engineers, I went to Germany to the 317th Combat Eng. then Ft Campbell, KY to the 20th Combat Eng. I went through the 101st Airborne Air Assault School and then I took the Repel Master course. I had an accident when repelling from the helicopter which was the beginning of my spinal cord injuries. Went through a four lower back and one neck surgeries. Then I was involved in a vehicle accident in 2005 on my way to the VA for an appointment. Had three more major surgeries which left me very limited to what I could do for myself. I was in a dark place in my life and I needed something to make me feel useful and give me a purpose in life.
In March of 2007, I found out about PHWFF through my pain clinic group at my VA hospital. PHWFF has been a Godsend and has been the answer to my prayers. It takes my mind off my pain and gives me a place to be with other Veterans. I can’t begin to describe the excitement of catching a fish. You forget about everything around you. Your brain gets a break from that constant pain. The more this happens the less the pain is eating at you. I’m so grateful that I can start giving back to an organization that has given so much to me and so many other Veterans. Veterans helping Veterans! A new world opened for me. I went from never leaving the house or yard to being so busy can’t find enough time to do everything I’ve learned. What a great thing to have and to share with others. I really enjoy helping anyone that want to learn tying a fly or building a fly rod. I’m now in a position where I can give back to the program. It feels great to be useful and productive. There isn’t anything like this program out there that helps any disabled veterans. These fishing trip have been so rewarding for me. To say thank you doesn’t seem to be enough for me. I’m forever so grateful for the eye opening experiences that PHWFF has given me. It has totally changed my life and continues to do so each new day. The healing power of a fish tugging your line. With the fellowship of other disabled Veterans. The lifelong friendships of the volunteers that keep the program going. All the magnificent places and wonderful views that are just amazing to see while fly fishing.
SFC (ret.) Brian Mancini
US Army | Iraq
3rd Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
Brian Mancini; is a medically retired Sergeant First Class, Combat Wounded Veteran who served as a Combat Medic with two tours in Baghdad, Iraq. He served over 12 years of Military Service in the United States Army. He is the recipient of two Purple Hearts, the Combat Action Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Air Assault Badge and Flight Medic Badge. He was medically retried in April of 2011 and returned to work in the community where he was born. He is a proud Phoenix native and enjoys volunteering and advocating for healthier Veterans care options and transitional needs, he is also the founder of the Honor House. The Honor House’s mission is to provide a complete transitional package that utilizes resources from the community to meet therapeutic and transitional needs of our Veterans affected by combat. He currently is residing in Surprise, AZ and enjoys spending time with his family, friends and Fly Fishing.
SSG (ret.) Robert Bartlett
US Army | Iraq
1st Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
Robert joined the Army from his home in Arizona at the age of thirty and added his name to a long list of ancestors who fought for this country, starting at Valley Forge, Civil War, to grandparents in WWII, and his father a Vietnam veteran.
Robert would serve his county as a Cavalry Scout Sniper with 3rd Infantry Division and would deploy to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The six month into deployment during a scouting mission, Robert’s Humvee would be hit by an IED. The shrapnel would penetrate his door next to his face and head, and a second device with ball bearings would pelt his body and those with him killing his truck commander. He would receive severe trauma to his face and hands. Due to his injuries he would die three times, 40+ procedures to rebuild him over a four year period at Walter Reed. During his service he would receive 10 awards to include Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, from the military, and many recognition awards and Honorable mentions from Brain Injury association, Patient of Courage award, Lockheed Martin, and the Soldier of the Quarter from American Legion to name just a few. During his time at Walter Reed he would work with Pentagon officials on various issues, from injured Military personnel obstacles, to problems in battle space operations.
Robert Bartlett is now a public speaker and works for CACI while continuing to advocate for vets while contributing as a board member of 4 Non-profits for injured veterans and currently lives in Virginia. He continues to work alongside Project Healing Waters to recruit vets and share his experiences with those around him through speaking engagements in the media and everyday life.
CPT (ret.) Eivind O. Forseth
US Army | Iraq
1st Annual 2-fly Tournament Alumni
Captain Eivind O. Forseth, USA Retired, was born and raised in Billings, Montana. He is the son of Eivind B. and Judith Forseth of Livingston, Montana, and brother of Larissa Forseth of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
CPT Forseth is a 1992 Billings West High School graduate. After two semesters at Montana State University – Billings, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1993. After Basic Training and Airborne School, he served an extended European tour in Germany from 1994 to 1998, while assigned to the 1st Armored Division as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle Gunner and Squad Leader. This assignment included a 12-month tour in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in support of Operation Joint Endeavor from 1995 to 1996.
Upon separation from the Army in 1998 as a Sergeant, CPT Forseth earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Riverside, in 2002. In 2003, he reenlisted and was commissioned upon graduation from Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He completed the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Ranger School and was assigned to D Company, 2/325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division as a Platoon Leader. The White Falcons deployed to Iraq in 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On 4 January 2005, in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, CPT Forseth and his gunner were severely wounded as a result of a blast from an Improvised Explosive Device. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his wounds sustained in combat.
CPT Forseth recovered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. He served as a project coordinator for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) from its inception in 2005 to his retirement from the Army in March of 2008. CPT Forseth’s father taught him to fly fish at the age of fourteen, but he did not take on the sport seriously until returning to college. Fishing and floating the Stillwater and Yellowstone Rivers in Montana with his family became his favorite pastime. CPT Forseth attributes PHWFF with helping him overcome his disability by learning to fly fish and tie flies adaptively. As he and his family will attest, PHWFF was instrumental to his emotional and physical recovery.
He currently resides in Ventura, California with his wife, Tara, and their daughter, Astrid Linnea. His son, Tristan Eivind, will graduate high school this year and plans to attend San Francisco State University in the fall. CPT Forseth continues to support Warfighters by serving as a Supervisory Test Management Specialist for the Department of the Navy at Point Mugu, California. Additionally, he volunteers as the lead for the Naval Air Warfare Center – Weapons Division Veterans’ Resource Group (NAWC-WD VRG).