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It's More Than Just A Game

The Armed Forces Cup was created to reward those VGA members with the most participation throughout the VGA Tour season in a Ryder Cup styled match play championship between branches.

This year, our championship field consists of five service branch teams representing the top VGA points earners per branch per region. Each player’s selection is a testament to their dedication to the VGA, their service to our country, and their love of the game of golf.


The Veteran Golfers Association is dedicated to enriching the lives of Veterans and their family members through the sportsmanship and camaraderie of golf.

May 2024 27 - 29

Evans, GA 30809
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Meet The Players

Tim Oakley

Chief Warrant Officer 3 (Retired) Tim Oakley was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, 20 miles south of Pittsburgh. As a standout high school basketball player, CW3 Oakley scored over 1,000 points in his high school career. CW3 Oakley had numerous scholarships offers, including West Point, but decided to forgo college and join the U.S. Army. CW3 Oakley started golfing in 2017 and has been hooked ever since. CW3 Oakley joined VGA the in 2001 and has played in 167 events. CW3 Oakley is married to his beautiful wife Carrie, and he has four adult children and nine adorable grandchildren.

CW3 Oakley began his military service in 1986 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Early in his enlisted career CW3 Oakley served as a Chemical Equipment Repairman. In 1990 he reclassified into Ammunition Management and Accountability Specialist where he spent the remaining 17 years of his career. CW3 Oakley’s assignments included, Germany (2), Hunter Army Airfield, GA, Fort Stewart, GA, Fort Lewis (JBLM), WA, Japan, and Korea. His deployment includes the Gulf War and Iraq War. CW3 Oakley retired from active service in 2007. CW3 Oakley’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Army Commendation Medal (4), Army Achievement Medal (5), Good Conduct Medal (3) National Defense Medal (2), Southwest Asia Campaign, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Non Commissioned Officer Professional Develop Ribbon (2), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (6), NATO Medal, KU-LIB-MDL (Saudi Arabia), and KU-LIB-MDL (Kuwait).

After retiring from active duty, CW3 Oakley transitioned to a Department of the Army Civilian as an Ammunition Manager. He has worked as an Accountable Officer at Fort Hunter Liggett, CA, Fort Bliss, TX, Fort Jackson, SC and Miesau, Germany. He has also had assignments at Blue Grass Army Depot and Anniston Munitions Center. He is currently working for the National Guard Bureau as the Ammunition Program Manager, managing ammunition for 54 states, two territories and the District of Columbia.

Jeff Manalansan

Hospital Corpsman Second Class Petty Officer, Fleet Marine Force, lives in Great Mills, Maryland with his wife, Danielle, and family. His hobbies include golf and riding his motorcycle. He also holds a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu, 1st Degree Black belt in Judo, Black and White Prejet in Muay Thai Kickboxing, and is a Level 4 instructor of Krav Maga. HM2(FMF) Manalansan left active service in July of 2009 after 7.5 years of active duty. He served with the 3rd Battalion 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. While serving with 3/8, HM2(FMF) Manalansan deployed to Okinawa Japan, during the initial invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom, followed by a Humanitarian mission to Port Au Prince, Hati in 2004. In January 2005, he was deployed to Fallujah Iraq, HM2(FMF) assisted with medical care to 1000’s of Iraq civilian during their first national election. In February 2005, HM2(FMF) Manalansan was awarded a Navy Commendation Medal for his treatment of over 25 Marines and Sailors during an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). HM2(FMF) Manalansan was wounded by an IED blast on May 5, 2005. He suffered a grade 3 concussion, ruptured eardrum, and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in the attack, but was able to treat three other service members, despite his need for medical attention.

HM2(FMF) Manalansan was stationed at the Naval Hospital Rota Spain from 2006-2009. During his service in Rota. HM2(FMF) Manalansan was the lead instructor for the Naval Hospitals EMT program. The Leading Petty Officer for the Multi Service Ward, and an integral part of the emergency room, and the Takedown team. HM2(FMF) Manalansan was also a certified member of the Sexual Assault team as well as the NASA team for shuttle launches. While in Rota, he started the Rota Lacrosse team and was a member of the Spanish National Team. HM2(FMF) graduated from the University of Pheonix with a BS in Organizational Security and Management.

HM2(FMF) Manalansan’s military awards and decorations include a Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action ribbon, Navy Unit Citation x2, Good Conduct medal x2, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary medal with EGA, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal with EGA, Global War on Terrorism Service medal with EGA, Korean Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Sea Service Ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas ribbon, Navy Expert Rifle and Pistol Medals.

HM2(FMF) Manalansan is the proud father of Natalie Rose (who graduates this year from Penn State’s Forensic Science program) and Sean Mathew (rising sophomore at the University of Southern California (USC) and is also an accomplished musician who has traveled overseas to perform. Additionally, he is a proud stepfather to Samuel William (a sophomore at Elizabethtown College majoring in International Business Finance, and earned an internship his freshman year), and Jacob Lee who has found his path in the working world.

Robert Pearsall

Technical Sergeant (Retired) Robert Pearsall grew up in Chester, Pa. and enlisted in the US Air Force in 1986 as a Missile & Space System Electronic Maintenance Craftman. During his 24 years Active Duty career, Robert maintained the weapons release systems on FB-111, B-52, and also, maintained Short Range Attack Missile, Air Launch Cruise Missile and Conventional Air Launch Cruise Missile.

Robert military awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal.

Robert military Assignments: Plattsburgh AFB NY, Barksdale AFB LA, Tyndall AFB Fl, and Andersen AFB Guam.

Robert joined the VGA in in 2022 and is currently the Alabama and Georgia State Champion.
Robert currently resides in Lynn Haven Fl. and works on Tyndall AFB as a Defense Contractor.

Jeff Duncan

Sergeant Jeff Duncan was enlisted with the USMC from 1970-1974. In 1970, he was stationed at Parris Island, Camp Gieger and received electronics training at Millington Naval Air station. Jeff completed specialty equipment and aircraft training at El Toro and MCAS Santa Ana. From 1971 through 1972, he was stationed at HMH-461 MCAS New River CH-53 avionics maintenance. In 1973, he was stationed at MWHS-1 Iwakuni Japan C117 Avionics maintenance.

Jeff has been married since 1969. He has three children: one daughter 53 years old, one daughter 47 years old with one granddaughter 14 years old and a son 42 years old, who is a retired US Marine MARSOC with 1 tour in Iraq and 3 tours in Afghanistan. His son is a purple heart and bronze star with valor recipient.

He lived in Hamilton New Jersey from 1974 to 1990, and has lived in Hopewell Township, New Jersey since 1990.

Jeff worked for the same company from 1974 to 2015, as a designer of computer memory and peripherals for minicomputers (Sun, Varian, Perkin Elmer, DEC, HP, etc.). He started his career as an electronics tech and ended his employment as VP of engineering and manufacturing when he retired in 2015.

He has played golf for 54 years and with the VGA since 2017. Per Jeff, “Golf is The best game in the world”.

Brice Hedin

I enlisted in the US Coast Guard Dec 1976 in Fayetteville, NC. I attended Aviation Machinist Mate (AD) class A School in Elizabeth City, NC. Then Air Stations in Cape Cod Massachusetts, Corpus Christi, Texas, Astoria Oregon, then returned to Corpus Christi, Texas. I retired in June 1997 at USCG Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas.

Upon retirement I have work as an Aircraft Quality Assurance Inspector for McDonald Douglas Aircraft Company, Boeing Aircraft Company, in Kingsville, Texas and Meridian, Mississippi. Have worked for Raytheon Aerospace, L3 Communications, Vertex Aerospace and am currently with V2X at NAS Meridian under Navy Contract.

I joined the VGA in 2019 and play in as many VGA tournaments as I can. I love the game of golf. I have been able to play in 3 consecutive Armed Forces Cup tournaments for team Coast Guard. I am currently first in VGA points nationwide for the US Coast Guard Team have been for the last 3 years playing VGA tournaments. This year I have played in 6 states and have 49 tournaments in 2023 with 15 wins. I qualified to play the 2023 Senior Championship Nationals for the second year at Forest Creek in Pinehurst, NC. I have also been able to enlist 5 new members to join the VGA for 2023.

Bryce Krause

Specialist Bryce Krause enlisted in the Army in 2007 and served four years on active duty. He was stationed at Fort Knox, KY where he was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan as an engineer with the 76th Engineer Company, 19th Engineer Battalion from 2009-2010.

After his enlistment, Krause started working for WeEnergies as a gas inspector in 2011. Still with the company, Krause is now the Gas Distribution Crew Leader out of the Watertown Service Center.
Krause joined the VGA in 2021. Over the last three years, Krause has been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people and play some of the top courses in the country.

Krause lives in Watertown, Wisconsin where he just became a dad to his baby girl. When Krause isn’t golfing, he enjoys working out, sports, eating and spending time with family and friends.

Danny Foster

Danny Foster enlisted in the United States Army in 1988 and ended his active duty status in 1992, serving in both Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He served in the Signal Corps with the 13th Signal Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

After his enlistment, Danny was employed at the Henry County Fire Department as a Firefighter/EMT before pursuing his passion in Information Technology just prior to Y2K. He later went on to run his own business in the IT sector supporting small and medium-sized businesses with their technological needs.

Danny joined the VGA in 2018. He served one year as an Assistant Director in GA, before becoming the State Director of GA. Danny now serves as the South Region Director and manages the VGA’s website and Golf Genius platform.

Danny lives in Senoia, GA, with his wife Tammey. They have 2 grown children, 2 cats, and 2 dogs.

Donald Prill

Major (Retired) Donald G. Prill retired Oct. 2023 after 29 years of service. He served in a variety of assignments over the years to include Infantry, Logistics, Intelligence, and Space Operations positions. Postings included Fort Benning, GA; Fort Hood, TX; Fort Riley, KS; Fort Huachuca, AZ, Fort Belvoir, VA; Offutt AFB, NE, and Kirtland AFB, NM. Additionally, MAJ Prill deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

MAJ Prill has a Masters of Science in Space Studies with Honors from American Military University and a Bachelor of Science from Tarleton State University.

After retiring from the Army, MAJ Prill remains actively engaged with his community by working at two Albuquerque golf facilities – 8 Grady’s Golf & Performance Center and Tanoan Country Club. Also, he launched a golf club repair business named Club Menders.

On a personal note, MAJ Prill has been married 28 years. He has one son and a grand-dog.

Gerald Burton

Specialist Gerald Burton lives in Winchester Virginia. Currently employed full time as senior management for a heavy highway construction company. Weekend activities include but not limited to VGA Golf, Owner/Operator of a dirt track race car.

Specialist Burton military journey began in 1992 and ended in 2009 serving in multiple branches with a several year break in service. He served in a variety of assignments including Infantry, Armor,Supply Specialist, and Seabee.

Specialist Burton deployed multiple times to Iraqi in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, The Liberation of Kuwait, Operation Brave Rifles and Operation Long Knife. Specialist Burton was injured in 2007 while on patrol when an IED hit his vehicle.

Specialist Burton has a degree in business management and also graduated from Phoenix State with a degree as a gunsmith.

Specialist Burton has found great pleasure over the past 2.5 years with the VGA, playing in 124 tournaments. The camaraderie and friendship made is forever embedded in my heart.

Specialist Burton had the honor of ARMY team captain AFC 2022 coming out as Champions. January 2022 Specialist Burton was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer).

Specialist Burton is the proud father of three children and four grandchildren.

Keith Boyer

Sergeant Keith Boyer joined the U.S. Army in 2005. He joined straight out of high-school from Mifflinburg, PA. He attended basic training at Fort Sill OK. He then attended advanced individual training at Fort LeonardWood, MO. for Heavy Equipment Operator.
Keith’s first duty station Camp Jackson, South Korea. He also served at Fort Benning, GA. doing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He left the U.S. Army in 2014.
Keith joined the VGA in 2022. He has played in 67 events across several states. The VGA allows the opportunity to continue the camaraderie with fellow veterans.
Keith currently lives in Columbus, GA. He resides with his wife Amanda and their three sons.

Nick Svoboda

Nick Svoboda is from Omaha, NE and is the Nebraska Veteran Golf Association State Director. Nick Joined the VGA in October 2021. He then became an Assistant Director in the summer of 2023. Nick became the State Director in 2024.

Nick served in Army National Guard for 6 year from 2009-2015. During that time he served as an MP and then a combat medic in a special forces support unit. In 2011 Nick deployed to Afghanistan where he completed various missions as well as serving as a member of a quick reaction force (QRF).

While completing his military service, Nick received two Bachelor’s Degrees in Athletic Training and Exercise Science. After completing his military service Nick began working in professional baseball as an athletic trainer. He worked for two organizations, the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Nick currently works as firefighter and paramedic for the Omaha Fire Department. He is a proud to be the favorite uncle to his many nieces. He is an avid sports fan, especially of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nick resides in Omaha, NE with his girlfriend Lindsey and their two dogs Stella and Oakley.

Shaun Newman

Shaun Newman is a 15-year Army Combat Veteran from Gloucester, VA. His Wife, Crystal Newman is a 20-year Retired Army Combat Veteran. They have one Child together Abigail Newman, age 4. Shaun and Crystal have been Married for 15 years, they met when they were both stationed in Mannheim Germany. He also has three other children that live in Chesterfield, VA. Their names are Elijah, Layla and Kaitlyn Newman. With that being said, Shaun has served in every capacity that a family member can serve, as a child, a brother, a member of the armed services, a father, and as a spouse.

Shaun enlisted in the Army in August of 1999 as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle Mechanic. During his time, he also served as a Vehicle Recovery Specialist, Armorer, Equal Opportunity NCO, and Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic. He has been stationed at Fort Hood, Fort Stewart, Fort Carson, Fort Jackson, Mannheim, and Sembach Germany. He has four deployments to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. During his deployments he had sustained TBI’s, which coupled with other physical injuries and PTSD caused him to be separated from the Army after 15 years.

Shaun’s Awards include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ campaign star, Iraq Campaign Medal w/ two campaign stars, Army Commendation Medal (2nd award) Joint Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal (5th award), Army Good Conduct Award (5th award), National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Overseas Ribbon (5th award), NATO ribbon, Combat Action Badge and the Drivers and Mechanics badges.

Shaun is still serving, but in a different capacity, his drive to give back and help others carried over from the military. He is blessed to be a stay-at-home father to Abigail, and he volunteers with First Tee of Colorado Springs, teaching golf to the next generation. Most importantly though, Shaun is trying to be the best ballet father by volunteering as the rat king at Abigail’s Nutcracker performance. He is continuing his education to become a PGA Professional, with a goal of becoming an ambassador for PGA Hope and be able to teach golf to veterans and give back the joys he has found with golf.

Tim Wuchter

Chief Warrant Officer 2, Tim Wuchter, joined the VGA in 2015 and is currently the Social Media Director for the VGA North Region, a position he has held for the past three years.

Tim served 15 years in the U.S. Army serving with the 441st Military Intelligence Battalion (Camp Zama, Japan); 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Joint Base Lewis-McCord); 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion (Fort Gordon, GA); 902nd Military Intelligence Group (Fort Meade, MD); and 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Fort Carson, CO). Tim deployed to Bosnia in support of Operation JOINT FORGE and has three deployments to Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

Tim has continued his service as both a government Civilian and Contractor, having held positions with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Defense Media Agency, Defense Information Systems Agency, and supporting DoD operations in Afghanistan. He currently works at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Tim has always been a dedicated Hawkeye, and earned his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Iowa in 2019, commuting over 178,000 miles to attend the executive course classes from his residence in Maryland. He also holds a Bachelor degree in Intelligence Studies from American Military University.

Tony Miller

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Anthony Miller is from Winchester, Tennessee. After retirement in 2020 became a professional amateur golfer.

LTC Miller retired from the Tennessee Army National Guard where he served as an Active Guard Reserve Officer for 23 years. He originally joined the Active Army in 1984 where he served as an enlisted Soldier until 1991.

LTC Miller graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Jacksonville State University in Alabama in 1991.

LTC Miller deployed with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment from Tennessee to Iraq from November 2004 until January 2005. Over his career he has served in many positions such as Maintenance Troop Commander, Regimental S4, State Mobilization Officer and Special Troops Battalion Commander for a Sustainment Brigade.

After retiring with 33 years of military service he does nothing but play golf daily.

Douglas Feist

Senior Chief (Retired) Douglas Feist, a native of Medford, Oklahoma. Retired from the United States Navy in March of 2016 with 23 and 1/2 years of active service and now resides in Collinsville, Mississippi, where he continues to serve the United States Navy as a defense contractor with V2X Aerospace Division as a System/Database administrator and Analyst.

Throughout his Naval career Senior Chief Feist served in several different duty Station and school assignments which included Recruit and Undesignated Airman Apprenticeship training schools in San Diego, CA; Airmen Fleet Readiness training with VFA-125 “Rough Raiders” at NAS Lemoore, CA; A tour of duty as a F/A 18C plane captain and subsequently as an Aviation Maintenance Administration clerk assigned to VFA-195 “Dambusters” NAS Atsugi, Japan and deployed on board the aircraft carrier USS Independence; Attended Aviation Maintenance Administration (AZ) “A” school NAS Meridian, MS; A tour of duty as a Logs and Records clerk, Data Analyst, and Maintenance Control Assistant Leading Petty Officer assigned to VQ-4 “Shadows” at Tinker AFB, OK; Attended Enlisted Navy Recruiter Orientation (ENRO) in Pensacola, FL and subsequently was assigned as a Navy Recruiter as part of NRD Dallas, TX recruiting out of NRS Del City and NRS South Oklahoma City, OK; A tour of duty as the System Administrator/Analyst, Logs and Records Supervisor, Maintenance Control Leading Petty Officer and was selected to the rank of Chief Petty Officer finishing his tour as the Leading Chief Petty Officer for Maintenance Control while assigned to the HM-15 “Blackhawks” at NAS Corpus Christi, TX; Attended Instructor certification school NAS Pensacola, FL; Assigned as the Assistant Officer-in-Charge, Course Supervisor, Lead Instructor, Leading Chief Petty Officer assigned to CNATT Learning Site at NAS Meridian, MS during this assignment he volunteered as an Individual Augumentee (IA) as part of the Navy’s first ever Petroleum Detachment deployed to Talil Air Base in Iraq, assigned as a Contracting Officer Representative (COR) and the unit’s Senior Enlisted Advisor for the entire theater’s fuel operations. Upon his brief return to NAS Meridian, MS he was subsequently assigned to VFA-32 “Fighting Swordsmen” at NAS Oceana, VA where he served as the Maintenance Control/Admin/Logs and Records and Supply departments Leading Chief Petty Officer. In his final tour of duty he returned to NAS Meridian, MS where he was assigned as the NATTC Learning Site’s Officer-in-Charge and Senior Enlisted Advisor for the five joint Navy and Marine Corps Aviation Schools.

Senior Chief Feist has been qualified/designated a Master Training Specialist, System Administrator/Analyst, Aviation Maintenance/Production Chief, Aviation Logs and Records specialist, Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist as well as many other aviation and administration designations throughout his career. Senior Chief Feist’s military awards and decorations include Navy Commendation Medal x 3, Army Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal x 7, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation x 3, Navy ‘E’ Ribbon x 5, Good Conduct Medal x 7, National Defense Service Medal x 2, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon x 4, Navy Recruiting Service Ribbon w/14 Gold Wreaths, Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon/Medal, and the Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon/Medal.

In 2016, after retiring from the US Navy. Senior Chief Feist begin his after Military career as the Regional Operations and Training Officer/Manager for 5 Little Caesar’s franchise’s in Mississippi and Alabama. It was in 2018 that Senior Chief Feist decided to return to serve the United States Navy as a civilian contractor returning him to his life’s work as an Aviation Logs and Records specialist and System/Database Administrator and Analyst with V2X Aerospace were he continues his career today.

Senior Chief Feist is a proud Navy Veteran, Husband, and father who has been blessed to marry the love of his life, Christina his wife and they have been blessed as a blended family with 5 successful and wonderful children. Makalee Taylor, Cordell, OK, Kayla Feist, Cabot, AR, Jacob Feist, Starkville, MS, Rylee Taylor, Collinsville, MS, Harlee Taylor, Cordell, OK.

Edward Shipley

In the fall of 1991, when he was seventeen years old, Edward signed up for the delayed entry program to join the US Navy. In September of 1992, he reported to bootcamp in Great Lakes, Illinois, where he completed his bootcamp, military training, and airmen apprentice training, however three weeks into bootcamp he had to resign his enlistment papers after them being incinerated in the MEPS building during the LA Riots of April 1992.

Following bootcamp, Edward was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, as a member of the HS7/HS1/TADS-6 Supply where he was deployed on various aircraft carriers, including the USS Kennedy, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, and Kittyhawk.

During his years of service, he had earned several accolades, such as the Good Conduct Metal, Southwest-Asia Service Metal with Bronze Star, Navy “E” Ribbon, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Commendation, NATO Metal, Armed Forces Service Metal, and National Defense Service Metal.

Edwards jobs and duties throughout his career included Naval Aviation operating target accounting, and material control management, as well as aircraft maintenance, and requisitioning aircraft supplies.

Following his duties in Jacksonville, Edward was then stationed as a supervisor aviation storekeeper in China Lake, California. Unfortunately, due to progressive injuries, Edward was medically retired from the military, and decided to utilize his GI bill to attend business school and became a licensed Insurance Agent and financial planner.

Edward has always had a passion for golf, and in 2018 he joined the VGA, and is currently a Utah Assistant State Director. He genuinely believes golf is one of the most therapeutic sports, and can improve the lives of all veterans, as it has his.

Now retired, Edward spends most of his time on the green, swinging his clubs and connecting with fellow veterans, be it his VGA connections, or other veteran programs, and even marshals at his local course.

Off the course, he is found spending time with his wife Sonni, their children, and grandchild. He enjoys bowling, pickleball, and traveling to warmer climates for golf.

Edward and his wife hope to relocate in a few years to golf year-round and connect with more veterans.

Erik Lindebak

Chief Petty Officer (Retired) Erik Lindebak served his country as a member of the U.S. Navy for over 20 years from 1988-2008 and distinguished himself as a Storekeeper in various roles and responsibilities in the Navy both at sea and shore. He served at sea onboard USS Ouellet (FF-1077), USS Sides (FFG-14), Naval Mobile Security Squadron Five and Naval Mobile Security Squadron Thirty. He served at various shore duty assignments including SIMA NRMF Long Beach, CA, Naval & Marine Corps Reserve Center Baton Rouge LA, Naval & Marine Corps Reserve Center Phoenix AZ, and Navy Reserve Recruiting Command Central in Great Lakes IL.

In May 2007, the Navy began looking for specialized logistics personnel to help relieve some of the logistical burdens of the U.S. Army. Chief Petty Officer Lindebak volunteered to embed with the 23rd Chemical Battalion as an Individual Augmentee at which time he was deployed to Afghanistan serving in various capacities at Bagram AB, Camp Eggers and FOB Salerno from June 2007-January 2008. After returning home, he then was tasked with helping a unit that was deploying to the 5th Fleet AOR until his retirement in December 2008. He has earned various personal awards and campaign medals thru his service.

Following his military retirement, Erik then moved to New Mexico and began finishing his Bachelor’s Degree and then working on a Master’s Degree. During this time, he worked at the Cannon AFB Golf Course and started officiating and coaching junior and high school sports in Clovis NM.

In January 2011, Erik realized he needed to serve his country in another capacity, so he applied for and was offered a Purchasing Agent position with the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) in the Western District of Washington in Seattle. In August 2015, he transferred to the USMS office in the Eastern District of Washington in Spokane as the Assistant Administrative Officer. In April of 2022, he moved to Arlington, VA to the USMS Judicial Security Division as a Management & Program Analyst. He currently serves with the USMS as the Assistant Chief of the Resource Management Branch of the Body Worn Camera Program Office.

He has been a member of the VGA since 2016 and has served as one of the Assistant State Directors for Virginia since September 2023.

James Saddler

Electricians Mate 1st Class James Saddler retired from the Navy after 20 years of service in 1993. His assignments included NAS LeMoore, NAS Jacksonville, USS Hunley, USS Simon Lake, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Cuba, and Naval Sub Base Kings Bay.

In 1994, after retiring from the Navy, EM1 Saddler started his second career at the US Postal Service. He retired from the Post Office in 2017 as an Electronics Technician.

EM1 Saddler was married to his wife, Linda, for 47 years. He is the proud parent of one daughter, Heather. He has 2 grandchildren, Cody and Allyssa, and one great grandchild, Lorelei Grace.

After the passing of his wife in 2023, He relocated from Bristol, TN to Eden, NC. His days are now filled with playing golf with the lunch bunch at Deep Spring Club in Stoneville, NC.

Jesse Schmidt

AW2 (NAC) Jesse Schmidt served five years on active duty in the US Navy from 1991 – 1996. Upon completion of Naval Aircrew Candidate School (NACCS) in Pensacola, FL and AW ‘A’ school in Millington, TN, Schmidt earned a rare opportunity to fly in carrier-based jets as an enlisted crew member. He successfully completed the S-3B Viking training pipeline at VS-41, NAS North Island, CA and was assigned to fleet squadron VS-29 upon receiving his wings.

Schmidt deployed with VS-29 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in support of operations Southern Watch and Vigilant Sentinel, acquiring centurion status (100 traps) aboard the USS Lincoln. Prior to deployment, he was selected as the squadron’s Sailor of the Month and Sailor of the Quarter. During deployment, Schmidt earned a Navy Achievement Medal for his role as the squadron’s Operations Department Leading Petty Officer.

Upon honorable completion of his service, Schmidt moved to Sioux Falls, SD and attended Southeast Technical Institute, earning Associate of Applied Science Degrees in Computer Programming and Network Administration. He then earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Sioux Falls in Business Management.

Schmidt moved to Omaha, NE in 2012 where he currently resides. During golf season he enjoys playing in men’s leagues twice a week and competing in VGA events on the weekends. Schmidt is an avid outdoorsman, often combining camping and golf weekends throughout the summer. In the fall he enjoys the variety of hunting opportunities that living in the Midwest offers.

Lowell Crow

CAPTAIN (RET) Lowell Crow Is retired in O’fallon, Illinois after 30+ years of service and 8 years as a City Manager in Illinois. He enjoys, Golfing, Traveling, and is an avid reader as well as being active in Rotary and the Naval Academy Alumni Association.

CAPT Crow Retired from US Navy in 2014, He served as a Surface Warfare Officer and served in a variety of assignments and Commands to include Commanding Officer USS Ogden LPD-5, Commanding Officer USS Wasp LHD-1, and his final assignment as Command Officer of Naval Weapons Station Yorktown. During his time in the service, he deployed in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Drug interdiction operations with the DEA where Wasp was the first LHD to be awarded Coast Guard Unit Commendation for Drug interdiction operations.

CAPT Crow also served on the Navy Staff in the Pentagon, at US Transportation Command, Amphibious Group One in Okinawa, Japan, on the staff for Commander Surface Forces Middle Pacific in Hawaii, Main Engines Officer USS New Jersey, and the commissioning Executive Officer on the USS Pearl Harbor.

CAPT Crow graduated with a BS in Material Management from the United States Naval Academy in 1984, The Marine Corp War College in 1994 where he received a MS in Military Arts, and a MPA from Old Dominion University in 2014. CAPT Crow’s Military Awards include Legion of Merit X3, Defense Meritorious Service Medal X2, Meritorious Service Medal X4, Joint Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal X5, Navy Achievement Medal X4.
After Retiring from the Navy in 2014, CAPT Crow became a City Manager where he served three different communities in Illinois. In 2019, he was selected by his peers as the City Manager of the year for the State of Illinois.

CAPT Crow is married to his lovely wife Gwen and has two sons Chris and Michael.

Ronald Russell

Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Ronald “Ronbo” Russell retired from the U.S. Navy in 2005 after 27+ years of enlisted/officer active duty service. He began his Navy career as an enlisted submariner aboard the first Trident submarine, USS Ohio (SSBN 726) (Blue Crew) where he earned his Dolphins and served four Deterrent Patrols as a Navigation Electronic Technician and earned the rank of Petty Officer 1st Class before entering the Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP). He is also USS OHIO plankowner.

Ronald Russell attended the University of New Mexico, NROTC in Albuquerque, NM and was commissioned an ensign in 1989. He completed Flight School and selected Electronic Attack Aircraft, the EA-6B Prowler and was assigned to VAQ 132 Scorpions with a follow-on tour with VAQ 133 Wizards at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, WA. He accumulated 1000 flight hours and over 100 carrier landings. Following flight status, LCDR Russell did tours aboard USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) as Battle Group Staff Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO), and abroad with the Royal Air Force (RAF) Maritime Group as an Exchange Officer.

After retiring from the Navy, Ronald Russell became a contractor for 15 years with Booz Allen Hamilton, Overlook, and LinQuest with an expertise in Electronic and Navigation Warfare. He supported the U.S. Military, NATO, and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) until 2020 when he retired.

Since retirement, Ronbo volunteers assisting the Greenskeeper and the PGA Professional at Kirtland AFB Tijeras Arroyo Golf Course in Albuquerque, NM and golfs with friends and the VGA. He is a 2024 Team Srixon amateur ambassador and currently assists local PGA Professionals with the ongoing PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program in Albuquerque. Ronbo was a member of the 2020 U.S. Navy VGA Armed Forces Cup team.

Tim Melecosky

Lieutenant Commander (retired) Tim Melecosky enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve in
March 1961 while attending Purdue University. In May 1962 LCDR Melecosky went on active
duty, completing boot camp in San Diego, CA and then attended “A” school in Memphis, TN,
training to be an Anti-Submarine Warfare Electronics Technician (AX). During this time he
applied for and was accepted for Naval Flight Training under the Naval Aviation Cadet
Program. He graduated in October 1964 as a Navy helicopter pilot and was commissioned as
an Ensign. He was immediately assigned overseas and spent the next 6 years in Vietnam flying
Combat Search and Rescue missions. In October 1967, while on a rescue mission into North
Vietnam, LCDR Melecosky’s helicopter came under attack by enemy anti-aircraft fire and
subsequently crashed near Haiphong Harbor, North Vietnam. He and his crew survived and
were rescued by another Navy helicopter. LCDR Melecosky was awarded the Purple Heart
Medal due to his injuries during the mission. He completed his combat tour in May 1970. He
spent the remaining 13 years in the Navy serving in various commands and ships. After serving
a total of 21 and a half years, LCDR Melecosky retired in San Diego on November 1, 1983.

His military awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross (4 awards), Purple Heart Medal, Air
Medal (6 awards), Navy Commendation Medal (2 awards), Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential
Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon (3 awards), Meritorious Unit Commendation
Ribbon (2 awards), National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal,
Vietnam Service Medal (with 2 silver stars & 1 bronze star / 9 campaigns), Vietnam Campaign
Medal (w/1960 device), Vietnamese Air Gallantry Medal (w/bronze wing), Republic of Vietnam
Meritorious Unit Commendation Gallantry Cross (w/palm), Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal, and
Naval Aviators Insignia.

Tim then went on to a flying career as a commercial airline pilot and retired from Continental
Airlines. However, not one to give up aviation and flying Tim embarked on a new career of
flying as an independent freelance pilot. This adventure took him to various destinations
around the world including but not limited to South America, Asia, China, Eastern Europe, the
Middle East and Europe. In August 2006 Tim was offered a job with Republic Airways and after
2 years was promoted to Chief Pilot. After spending 54+ years in aviation, Tim finally retired on
December 31, 2017.

Tim joined the VGA in March 2019. He has loved meeting so many servicemen and women
and making friends at all the various VGA events he has played in throughout the country. This
will be Tim’s second Armed Forces Cup, having participated in the inaugural tournament in

Currently a resident of Oregon, Ohio, Tim is married to Debbie Melecosky, also a Navy veteran
and distinguished member of the VGA. They have a son, 3 daughters and 8 grandchildren

Ty Ehlers

Senior Chief Boatswains Mate (Retired) Ty Ehlers was born and raised in Nelson, Nebraska after graduating high school in 1990 he attended college for 2 years before joining the Navy in April of 1993. He joined the VGA in 2021 and currently serves as a Virginia Assistant State Director for the Veteran Golfers Association.

Senior Chief Ehlers retired from the US Navy in June 2020 after 27 years of active duty. After graduating Boot Camp and SN ATD School in July of 1993 He was assigned to his initial sea tour onboard USS San Jacinto (CG 56). His first shore duty was at NRD Omaha as a production recruiter in Lincoln, Nebraska. In January of 2000 he returned to sea duty onboard USS Paul F. Foster (DD 964) where he served as Departmental Leading Petty Officer and was selected as the Senior Sailor of the Year and received the 2003 Surface Forces Leadership Award. In 2003 he transferred to NRC San Antonio, Texas where he served as the Command Senior Enlisted Advisor. While there he was selected to go on an IA serving at MNSTC-Iraq at Camp Rustamiyah. In April 2006 he reported to the Experimental Vessel HSV 2 Swift where he served as Departmental LCPO and Senior Enlisted Advisor. In September 2008 Senior Chief Ehlers reported to Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 serving as the Bravo Co. Operations Chief. In November of 2009 Senior Chief Ehlers reported to the Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit in Great Lakes, Illinois where he served as the Professional Mariners Directorate LCPO. In May of 2013 he reported to USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) serving as the ships Maintenance and Material Management Coordinator. In June of 2016 He then transferred to Submarine Squadron Six in Norfolk, Virginia where he served as the Waterfront Operations LCPO. In December of 2016 Senior Chief Ehlers reported to his final duty station Coastal Riverine Squadron 4 where he served as Bravo Co. Senior Enlisted Advisor.

Senior Chief Ehlers is a 2008 Graduate of the Navy’s Senior Enlisted Academy. His military awards and decorations include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal x3, Navy Achievement Medal x5, Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, Expeditionary Warfare Specialist, Aviation Warfare Specialist, and Information Dominance Warfare Specialist as well as other personal, unit and service decorations.

Senior Chief Ehlers currently lives in Carrollton, Virginia with his beautiful bride of 29 years Michelle (Shelly). They are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters and grandparents to four. Ty and Shelly enjoy spending as much time as they can together on the golf course and at VGA events as well as spoiling their four grandchildren every chance they get.

Adam Donahue

Technical Sergeant (Retired) Adam Donahue retired from the US Air Force in 2023 after 21 years of active duty. During his 21-year career, Adam served in a variety of assignments from Instructor Loadmaster, Evaluator Loadmaster and Air Advisor. He served in many bases to include Pope AFB, NC; Hurlburt Field, FL; Little Rock AFB, AR; JB Charleston, SC; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Throughout his career, Adam deployed many times in support of military missions to include Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, and Operation Allies Refuge.

Adam’s military awards and decorations include Meritorious Service Medal, Accommodation Medal x 3, Air Medal x 10, Aerial Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal x 3.

Adam is originally from Curwensville, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Curwensville High School in 2001. He is the proud father of Aiden 17, and Brady 16. Adam now resides in Glendale, Arizona, where he enjoys an active retirement filled with golf, meeting for lunch with friends and taking vacations.

Daniel Bloomer

Sr Airmen Dan Bloomer was raised in Watertown, Massachusetts and graduated from Saint Patick’s high school in 1981.
Prior to graduation, Dan enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. After completing technical training at Chanute A.F.B. in Illinois. He was assigned to the Strategic Air Command’s, 8thAir Force 42nd field maintenace squadron Loring A.F.B. Maine. He served as an aircraft electrical specialist, repairing and maintaining the B52 Stratofortress and the KC 135 Stratotanker. He was selected for additional training, earning him the title of flight mechanic.
Dan was honorably discharged in August of 1985 and returned back home to the Boston area. He believes the decision to enlist into the Armed Forces provided him with invaluable life skills and friendships.
While home he pursued a career in the electrical trade, earning an electrical license from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He co-owned and operated an electrical contracting business for 27 years, Lampasona and Bloomer Electrical Service Inc LLC. He retired in 2022.
Dan currently resides in Watertown, Ma. with his wife Cheryl of 29 years. Both enjoy outdoor activities and time spent on Cape Cod.
Dan joined the VGA in 2022, to the advice of lifelong friend Micheal ( Sully ) Sullivan, who happens to be a member of the 2024 Marine Corps team. Although it’s only been a couple short years, the experience has been memorable. A lot of laughs, good golf and great people.

Howard Thurman

Master Sergeant (Retired) Howard Thurman is currently located in Crestview, Florida, working at Hurlburt Field AFB as an Air Simulation Instructor. He was born in the Great state of Mississippi on March 15, 1961, and graduated from Florence High School in 1979. He began his Air Force career at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas in July 1983, completing basic training in September 1983. While on active duty he completed tours in Korea, Iceland, Panama and Germany. He was deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Desert Shield.

His military awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal.

Member of the Big Brother and Sister organization

Master Sergeant Thurman has a bachelor’s in science from Troy University and a Master’s degree in Whistologly from World University.

Master Sergeant Thurman joined the Veteran Golfers Association in August 2021.

Master Sergeant Thurman is a proud father of two daughters ages 31 and 30. Jordan Thurman lives in Houston, TX and PO1 Monique Thurman lives in San Diego, California.

Jim Jakubowski

Sgt Jakubowski served in the USAF from 1972 to 1976 primarily in Special Services -Athletics . Jim`s first assignment after basic training was at England AFB , Alexandria La.
The base is now closed but the city of Alexandria host two VGA events annually.

Sgt Jakubowski was assigned to Andersen AFB , Guam . Jan 75 . Participated in Operation Frequent Wind and Operation New Life after the fall of Saigon .

Sgt Jakubowski was discharged from the Air Force in 1976 from Wurtsmith AFB , Oscoda , Michigan .

Jim has one daughter Kate Rzeppa son-in-law Chris and three grandsons . Nick currently serving in the USN in Connecticut . Tyler 17 and Drew 15 all have or are playing multiple sports for Rochester Hills Adams HS .

Jim has worked as an official USA Softball , NCAA and HS Softball for 40+ years also USA Boxing for25 years .

Justin Gamet

Mr. Justin Gamet is a combat Veteran who served 10 years in the United States Air Force. He enlisted in 1999 and graduated from Integrated Avionics Systems School at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. His assignments included F-16 Avionics Systems Specialist at Hill AFB, Utah and Aviano Air Base, Italy. In 2003, Mr. Gamet continued his Air Force career by becoming a member of the Colorado Air National Guard assigned to Buckley Air Force Base.

He received numerous military awards, including Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with 1 Service Star, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Mr. Gamet earned a B.S. in Aviation Technology from Metropolitan State University of Denver. He has earned his pilot ratings up to and including Airline Transport Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor and is now a pilot with a major U.S. airline. He and his wife, have three children.

Phillip Ritchie

Phillip Ritchie joined the Greatest Air Force in the world in May of 1999. Most would agree it is also the best branch of service you could possibly join; others are just jealous they couldn’t get in. After spending a couple months in Texas for basic training and technical school to become an Electronic System Security Assessment Analyst, he was shipped off to Germany for his first assignment. A horrible experience filled full of strong European beer and trips throughout Europe. Just a few short years later the AF decide they needed his services in another hardship location and sent him to be stationed at Hickam AFB, HI., where he struggled to stay out of the constant rays of sunshine and avoided the greatest beaches in the world. After completing his second consecutive overseas tour, it was time to go back to the continental United States to be stationed at Scott AFB, IL., home of Air Mobility Command. A location where he was finally able to go to professional sporting events with the Saint Louis Rams, Cardinals, and Blues just down the road. Five years later he returned to his home state of California to be stationed at Vandenberg AFB, CA., just six hours away from family. Another miserable location on the beach with great weather most of the year and known for amazing wine. For his final assignment location, he was asked to go to the southernmost point of the continental united states, Key West, FL. A location where no one goes to party or have fun.

Technical Sergeant (TSgt) Phillip Ritchie retired from his Key West, FL assignment as an All-Source Intelligence Analyst in 2019 after 20 years of service. After retiring from the Air Force, he went on to be a contractor supporting the US Government on Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, NM supporting warfighters with Navigation Warfare.

TSgt Ritchie originally joined the VGA in 2018 to get a free T-Shirt, at that time living in Key West, FL there were no local VGA events to participate in. After moving to Albuquerque, NM in 2019 and participating in his first VGA Event in June of that year he has been an active member of the VGA ever since. Over the past several years he has participated in events in eight different states (NM, TX, AZ, NV, CO, WA, GA, NC), three state championship events, three West Regional Championship events, three Armed Forces Cup Regional Qualifiers, the 2021 Armed Forces Cup in Pinehurst, NC, and the 2023 Armed Forces Cup in Evans, GA.

His military awards and decorations include multiple AF Commendation medals, a Joint Service Achievement Medal, an AF Achievement Medal, a Navy Achievement Medal, an Iraq campaign medal, and an Afghanistan campaign medal.

Military Assignments:
426 Information Operations Squadron, Vogelweh Cantonment, DE (1999-2003)
352 Information Operations Squadron, Hickam AFB, HI (2003-2005)
67 Information Warfare Flight, Scott AFB, IL (2005-2009)
618 Tanker Airlift Control Center, Scott AFB, IL (2009-2010)
614 Air Operations Center, Vandenberg AFB, CA (2010-2011)
14 Air Force, Vandenberg AFB, CA (2011-2015)

Scott Wiederholt

Colonel Scott Wiederholt, USAF, is currently on active duty and stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

Colonel Wiederholt commissioned into the Air Force in 1999 after graduating from Creighton University, Omaha Nebraska. A native of Remsen, Iowa, he is a command pilot with over 4,600 hours in the C-17A, C-21A, KC-10A, KC-46A, T-1A, and T-37B. His career spans several operational, command, and staff tours which include numerous deployments and support to overseas contingency operations/humanitarian relief efforts. In addition to 940 combat flight hours, Col Wiederholt has been awarded several medals including the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters. He is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, and is a Secretary of Defense Executive Fellow.

Col Wiederholt and his spouse Pam have enjoyed their 22+ years of marriage where they are the proud parents of four sons. Two are currently attending college at the University of Missouri Science and Technology and Kansas State University. The youngest two are in high school and junior high. When not golfing, the family enjoys hiking, track, baseball, and football.

Terence Jacobs

Master Sergeant Jacobs enjoys traveling and playing golf as much as possible. He currently residing in Lynn Haven, Florida and working at Tyndall AFB, as the training manager for the F-22 program. He was born In Columbia, South Carolina on March 26, 1963, and graduated from A.C. Flora High School in June 1982. HE entered the Air Force in June 1982 and graduated basic training in August Lackland AFB, Texas.

Master Sergeant Jacobs served 21 years on active duty in the Air Force and retired in July 2003 at Tyndall AFB, Florida. My assignments included, Greenland, Germany, Italy, Panama. He deployed in support of serval campaigns while on active duty.

Military awards include Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal. Awarded Master Instructor Badge.

Master Sergeant continues his support for numerous charitable organizations to include Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity and Boys and Girls club.

Master Sergeant Jacobs joined the Veterans Golfers Association in August 2021.

Master Sergeant Jacobs is the proud father of one daughter who’s currently serving our country in the Navy. She resides in San Diego, CA and currently holds the rank of MA-2.

WD Metheny

Retired Master Sergeant William D. Metheny known more affectionately as W.D. lives in Yankton, SD with his wife of 35 years, Jill Michele Metheny. He was born in Oakland, MD and grew up in Cumberland, MD. W.D. was prepared to enter active duty Air Force following high school in June of 1982, but canceled his enlistment upon the encouragement of a young lady. Valuable lessons were learned by that decision! He reengaged with his recruiter, SSgt Paul Woods in Jul of 1983 and entered Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB on 2 Nov 1983. Over the next 20 years he spent time in Colorado, Texas, South Dakota (where he met his wife), Alaska, Alabama, North Dakota, Wisconsin and finally back to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. During his first 12 years & 7 months, he served as a Diet Therapist at various hospitals, taking part in preparing over 1 million meals for patients & staff, as well as teaching 100’s of health and wellness classes. His last 7 years & 5 months were spent as an Air Force Recruiter in various positions (Active Duty Recruiter, Nurse/ Physician Recruiter & Recruiting Flight Supervisor). During this portion of his career, he had a hand in recruiting over 1000 people into the United States Air Force.

MSgt Metheny earned numerous awards & decorations as well as attained several degrees and held multiple leadership positions. All of which laid the foundation for life outside of the Air Force. Upon his Air Force Retirement on 30 Nov 2003, W.D. went into business for himself and started a civilian career on 1 Jan 2004 as an independent contractor in the field of financial planning. W.D. continues in that career and is in his 21st year of practice.

MSgt Metheny joined the VGA in March of 2021 at the encouragement of South Dakota State Director Tyler Vogt. His experience with the VGA started out with the competitive side in mind but quickly transitioned to the true purpose of the VGA. Which is being there for his battle buddies, providing support and encouragement. The VGA according to MSgt Metheny is a life safer for so many!

W.D. & his wife Jill have 3 sons…Ethan William, age 32 of Rapid City SD, Evan Wallace, Age 31 of Sioux Falls, SD & his Twin Brother Erik Daniel, Age 31 & also of Sioux Falls, SD. Jill & W.D. treasure the time they have together and the opportunities they get to spend time with their boys.

Life is too short to worry about the small stuff!!! Live life feeling blessed…Be Not Afraid!!! No One Fights Alone…We Got Your Back!!!

Ben Matthews

Master Sergeant (Retired) Ben Matthews lives in Okatie, SC in the Sun City community where he enjoys playing golf on three golf courses, each offering a different golfing challenge.
MSgt Matthews retired from the United States Marine Corps in 2005 after 24 years of service. He served in in a variety of assignments to include Communications, Reconnaissance, Light Armored Vehicles, Drill Instructor, and staff member on an Inspector and Instructor (I&I) unit. MSgt Matthews’ final assignment was as the Communications Chief of 2d Reconnaissance Battalion, 2d Marine Division, Camp LeJeune, NC.

MSgt Matthews was stationed in several bases over the years including 29 Palms, CA, Camp Lejeune, NC, Camp Schwab Okinawa Japan, Parris Island, SC, Greensboro, NC and Chattanooga, TN.
Throughout his career, MSgt Matthews deployed several times in support of military mission to include Peacekeeping Operations in Beirut Lebanon, where he survived the terrorist attack on the Marine Barracks on 23 October 1983, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom (twice), Operation Sharp Edge, Non-combat Evacuation Operations NEO) in Liberia, and Hurricane Hugo Relief Operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
MSgt Matthews earned two Associates Degrees one in General Studies from Cambell University, the other in Computer Science from Grantham University. MSgt Matthews maintained a GPA of 4.0 throughout his studies and earned recognition on the National Dean’s list for having on the top GPAs Nationwide. In addition to his civilian education MSgt Matthews also graduated from the following Military courses: Field Radio Operator, Morse Code School, System Chief Course, Communications Chief Course, Amphibious Reconnaissance School, Naval Dive Course, Airborne, Noncommissioned Officers Course, Staff Noncommissioned officers Course and Advanced Staff Noncommissioned Officers Course.

MSgt Matthews has received the following Military Awards: Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Achievement Medal (x4), Combat Action Ribbon (x3), Presidential Unit Citation, Joint Meritorious Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation (x2), Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (x7), Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal (x2), National Defense Medal (x2), Southwest Asia Service Medal (x2), Iraqi Campion Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (x4), Marine Corps Drill Instructor ribbon, Kuwaiti Liberation Medal (Kuwait), Kuwaiti Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), Navy SCUBA divers badge, and the Navy/Marine Corps Parachutist badge.

In 2005, after retiring from the Marine Corps, MSgt Matthews took a civilian position as the Communications Chief for a Special Marine Air Ground Task Force (SMAGTF) at the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab Quantico, VA for two years. Following that position MSgt Matthews became a Telecommunications Manger (GS-14) in support of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) for eight years.

MSgt Matthews is married to his wife, Debbie and has four children, Katie and her husband Jay, Daniel and his wife Heather, and Drew and his wife Zoey. MSgt Matthews’ middle son Chadwick passed away in a vehicle accident December of 2010. MSgt Matthews has eight grandchildren, Evan, Hannah, Brooke, Daniel, Phoenix, Chadwick, Wade and Quinlan.

Chris Thielemann

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Chris Thielemann retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in December 2015 after 21+ years of enlisted and commissioned service. Chris immediately started his second career with the Department of Justice as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Northern Florida before being appointed as a U.S. Immigration Judge in 2018 serving in Dallas, Texas.

After graduating from high school in in 1990, Chris attended boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina followed by advanced training at Ft. Eustis, Virginia. He then attended Armstrong State University (now Georgia Southern University) on a Marine-Option Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Scholarship where he earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice and an A.A.S. in Corrections upon graduation and commissioning in 1994. He was the first Marine-Option to ever graduate from Armstrong State University.

Chris began his enlisted time as a Longshoreman and then commissioned as an Artillery Officer serving at Camp LeJeune, NC, and then Ft. Sill, OK as a Gunnery Instructor. While at Ft. Sill, Chris was selected for the Funded Law Education Program and attended The Florida State University College of Law where he earned his Juris Doctor in 2002 and became a Marine Judge Advocate for the remainder of his career. As a Judge Advocate, Chris served in variety of prosecution and defense positions in addition to serving as an Assistant Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy—his favorite duty station—and later as a Military Judge. During this time, Chris also returned to school and earned an advanced law degree (L.L.M.) in criminal law from The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School at the University of Virginia

Chris served across the country and overseas to included Quantico, VA, Camp LeJeune, NC, Ft. Sill, OK, Beaufort and Parris Island, SC, Annapolis, MD, Okinawa, Japan, and Camp Pendleton, CA. He also deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Chris is married to Tiffany, who is also a member of the VGA and plays in every tournament with Chris. It is Tiffany who gave Chris his motivation to play golf and take the chance of competing and pursuing his goal of representing the Marines at AFC. Chris is also the proud father of four children—1 daughter and 3 boys—who have all graduated college other than the youngest who will graduate the week before the AFC Championship.

Doug Gerwulf

Lance Corporal Douglas Gerwulf served in the Marine Corps as an infantryman for six years during the years of 1987-1992 with assignments that included Marine Barracks “8th and I”, deployment to the first Gulf War in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, 29 Palms in California and Okinawa, Japan. While on the Presidential Detail at “8th and I”, his most memorable moment during this detail came when he was selected to be on the detail that escorted President Reagan to his last ride on Air Force One.

After departing the military he worked several odds and ends jobs, until getting into the communication field. It started with a phone company in Iowa, which progressed into splicing outside plant fiber optics. He has been working in the field for 25+ years and currently works for Fusion Pros out of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.

Lance Corporal Gerwulf resides in Sioux Center, Iowa. His daughter, Brianne lives in Alburnett, Iowa with her fiance Carston and 2 year old grandson Arlo.

On a normal Saturday morning waiting for the rain to clear at his local course, he met a couple guys, veterans, bragging about a tournament they just played in Nebraska where it was 70 degrees and 40 mph winds. They said it was with an organization called the VGA. The next morning, over coffee he looked it up, paid the membership and signed up for his first tournament the next weekend at Lake Panorama in Panora,Iowa.

Joining the VGA was one of the best decisions that this Marine ever made. Meeting fellow veterans from all over the United States, sharing stories of lives lived and playing golf on courses never dreamed of playing has been very fulfilling. Many hurdles have been accomplished from communications skills to anger management, which has transformed into everyday life. Semper Fi. No one fights alone.

Mac McCurry

Mac McCurry got out of the Marine Corps in 1996 as a Corporal (E-4). During my active duty status i spent time in Okinawa Japan (3rd FSSG) and Camp Lejeune (2nd Marine Division) with time in the field in Twenty Nine Palms and Fort Bragg. Extra duties were carrying the American Flag in The Honor Guard and also completion of training for Rifle Range Coach.

While in Okinawa started playing golf with fellow Marines that i still keep in touch with. It was a honor to reconnect with a Mentor of mine Robert Cooper on the golf course 21 years later. I have definitely found camaraderie with fellow Veterans since joining the Veterans Golf Association. I’m sure i speak for every Veteran, that we all wish we were still heavily involved with the Military and if the country were to as for our help we would be there.

I have carried myself since as a Marine in Leadership roles in the civilian work that i do for a living. I have been blessed for the Man that the Military made out of me. Now in midlife i still play golf, work out and enjoy the blessing of my family and our country. We are also blessed to be able to travel. I am currently on a mission to visit all 50 states. As of now i am 49 out of 50 with Alaska as my final state. I will be a first time grand father in July and look forward to what that adventure brings. Currently celebrating 10 years of marriage and was lucky enough to find not only a good woman, but one that enjoys golf as well. Our kids have graduated college (2 Radiologist), one just started his adventure in the Coast Guard and one will be graduating high school shortly. We currently reside in Palm Bay Florida and enjoy the small town atmosphere.

Michael Hendren

Michael Hendren currently lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife Chelsea, going on 11 years, and their 2 boys; Cooper (9) and Myles (4). Michael also has a daughter, Katrina (20) who is currently in Nursing School and is engaged to be married next year.

Michael, originally from Columbus, Indiana, graduated in 2002 from Columbus North High School. After a failed attempt at College, Michael joined the United States Marine Corps in June of 2003 and would arrive at MCRD San Diego in November.

Following Boot Camp, Michael would go to Twentynine Palms where he would attend Marine Corps Communication Electronic School as a 5979, Air Defense Systems Technician. After MOS school, Michael was stationed at MCTSSA, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, where he would spend the rest of his lone enlistment. Michael left the USMC as an E-5 Sergeant in 2009.

Michael continues to serve the Marine Corps as a Federal Employee currently working out of NSWC Crane.

Michael Sullivan

Lance Corporal Michael Sullivan was born in Watertown MA. Shortly after entering the U.S Marine Corps he trained as an Intelligence Specialist serving first with the 3rd Marine Division HQBN in Okinawa Japan then onto MCDEC Quantico VA. While in VA he was a Member of the Ceremonial Platoon participating in over 100 Military burials as either a Body Bearer or member of the Rifle Detail. For this he was awarded The Navy Achievement Medal.

After discharge Michael returned to the Boston area and found a new career venture as a Lineman for Comcast serving this position for over 30 years.

Michael currently resides in Mendon MA with his wife Donna with their combined family of four sons and two step-daughters. The Sullivan’s are very involved with fundraising for Cystic Fibrosis, through Cycling & Golf Tournaments due to the oldest three boys having been diagnosed at a very young age with this disease which in turn cut short the lives of two sons at ages 21 & 27. The family continues to be advocates to ensure a healthy life for his surviving son. Michael has proudly been a Member of the VGA since 2019 playing up & down the East Coast with and now against his life-long friend Daniel Bloomer member of the 2024 Air Force Team.

Mike Binney

Mike Binney, Maj, USMC (Ret) has resided in north central Pennsylvania since 2006, when he transferred there from Ft. Bragg, NC in the spring of 2006.
After finishing his last 2 years on active duty at HMLA-775 Det A, in Johnstown, PA, Mike retired in 2008 after 20 years of active duty.

After graduating flight school in 1991, Mike was assigned to HMLA-367, MAG-39, 3rd MAW, and flew the AH-1W Super Cobra for HMLA-367 (Scarface) out of MCAS Camp Pendleton from 1991 to 1995. Mike deployed twice to the Pacific theater in 1992 to Okinawa and the Philippines, and in 1994 with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the USS Tripoli to Somalia and the Persian Gulf.

Mike transferred to the USMC Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, VA from 1995 to 1996. And following graduation, he transferred to 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (Anglico), MCB Camp Lejeune, NC in 1996. He subsequently attended the US Army’s Airborne School in 1997 and because of its close relationship with the 18th ABN Corps, Mike spent 2 glorious weeks at Ft. Polk, LA at JRTC in Feb 1997!
Later that year Mike was assigned to the 26th MEU and deployed aboard the USS WASP to Bosnia and the Mediterranean theatre. In 1998, after returning from deployment, he was transferred back to Camp Pendleton and was re-assigned to HMLA-367 where he completed an additional overseas deployment with the 31st MEU, based out of Okinawa.

Upon returning from deployment in 2000, Mike was accepted to the Naval Postgraduate school in Monterey, CA and received his Masters (MS) in National Security Affairs in Middle East studies. After 9/11, Mike transferred to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Ft. Bragg, NC and deployed multiple times to Afghanistan and Iraq from 2023 to 2006.
His personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Sea Service Deployment Medal x 5, and a non-punitive letter of caution for a “slight misunderstanding” at NAS Pensacola in 1990.

In 2009, following retirement, Mike started his career in golf by attended the Professional Golfers Career College in Orlando FL. In 2010, Mike became the asst. pro at Ebensburg Country Club, Ebensburg, PA as well as the asst. coach for the St. Francis University Men’s golf team. Mike also became a USGA Rules Official and has attendee the always exciting 5-day rules seminar on 5 separate occasions. He has officiated USGA local and sectional qualifiers as well as PA Golf Association and Western PA Golf Association Championships since 2010. In 2014 he became the Head Coach at Bucknell University where he is in his 10th season of coaching the Bucknell Bison.

Mike and his wife Rachel, are the proud parents of 3 outstanding young women; Alexa, who will graduate from Houghton University this spring as well as Kyra & Jenna, who will be a rising junior and freshmen respectively at Houghton University this fall. All three are outstanding cross country and track and field athletes for the Houghton Highlanders!

Robert Ray

Corporal Robert Ray (veteran) enlisted in the Marine Corps in September of 1987 and went to bootcamp on Oct 12th of that year at MCRD San Diego. Following bootcamp he reported to the School of Infantry at Camp Geiger, Camp Lejeune NC graduating as an 0351 anti-tank assault man. During SOI Corporal Ray was selected for the newly created FAST company and was sent to FAST School class 3 on Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Upon graduating he was assigned to the USS Long Beach CGN-9 where he served until 1990 completing a West Pac, Rim Pac, and a World Cruise. In August 1990 he was reassigned to 1st Battalion 7th Marines and immediately deployed in support of operation Desert Shield / Storm under Lt. Col James Matthis. Robert was awarded the Armed forces expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon amongst others.

Upon separating from the Marine Corps, Robert joined the New Mexico State Police graduating from the NMSP Academy In December 1991. In February 1994, He was married to his wife Debbie, they have 4 children and been further blessed with 3 grandchildren. Robert completed his law enforcement career with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, retiring in September 2006.

Robert than began a second career as a government contractor quickly working his way from guard to project manager on a DHS contract supervising armed security personnel in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa. In December of 2016 he began working for Akima LLC and Alaskan Native Corporation and is currently the Director of Operations for Akima Global Services, managing multiple contracts supporting the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the United States Army, the United States Space Force, the Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Marshal Service.

In 2018 Robert found the VGA and began playing in various states as NM did not yet have a dedicated state organization, he qualified for west regionals. While there, in the Marine Corps way, he was voluntold and became the first NM state Director where he served until 2020. In July of 2023, Robert again was appointed as NM State Director where he is still currently serving.

Troy Felder

Staff Sergeant Troy Felder currently lives in Kaneohe, Hawaii. He is an assistant state director of the Veterans Golf Association in Hawaii. Troy entered the Marine Corps. in January of 2012 and received an Honorable discharge in February of 2021.

Staff sergeant Felder served in camp Pendleton at the 9th Communications Battalion and in MCBH Kaneohe Bay at 3/3. He has been on many MEU’s and UDP’s around the world to places like Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Australia, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines, where he served as a Cyber Systems Specialist and Communications Chief.

He received numerous service medals and awards throughout his enlistment. After leaving the service, he now works as a contractor on Joint Base Pearl Harbor, continuing his work in his previously enlisted field while also in pursuit of his degree.

Bill Rhoades

Chief Warrant Officer Four (Retired) Bill Rhoades served 26 years active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard and retired to Fort Gibson, Oklahoma where he has lived with his spouse, Debra (also a Coast Guard Veteran) since 2011. Bill and Debbie are very active during their retirement playing golf, pickleball, camping and motorcycling.

Bill retired from the Coast Guard in 2003 after serving tours of duty at Recruit Training Center Alameda, CA, Yeoman “A” School in Petaluma, CA, Group Detroit, 2nd CG District offices in St. Louis, CG Recruiting Office, St. Louis, CG Atlantic Area Office, Governor’s Island, NY, CGC Woodrush, Sitka, AK, Central Regional Recruiting Command, St. Louis, MO, Integrated Support Command, New Orleans, LA, Integrated Support Command, Ketchikan, AK (detached to Juneau, AK), and finally, Integrated Support Command, St. Louis, MO where he initially retired and opened a business converting 2-wheeled motorcycles to trikes and worked as a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Ridercoach for more than 25 years.

In 2004, Bill attended the first Director Intern training course for the National Cemetery Administration in St. Louis, Missouri. Upon graduation, he was assigned as the Director of Camp Butler National Cemetery in Springfield, IL. Later, he served as the Director at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Battle Creek, MI, Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY, Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, GA, Marietta National Cemetery in Marietta, GA and finally to Oklahoma as the Director of Fort Gibson and Fort Sill National Cemeteries.

After 17 years’ service with the National Cemetery Administration, Bill retired again along with Debbie who had 32 years of Federal Government service in July 2021. Bill and Debbie have 3 children. Julie is a licensed practical nurse living in Illinois. Michael is a chemical operator living in Imperial, Missouri along with his spouse Victoria (a Registered Nurse). Shawn recently retired from the U.S. Army and is currently living and working at Fort Moore, GA along with his wife Brandy as a Bradley vehicle mechanic. Bill and Debbie have 7 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter as well as two Yorkies who believe they are the most important children in the family.

Bill has been active in sports his entire life playing semi-pro baseball, boxing gold gloves, and bowling where he competed for the All-Navy team in 1981. Bill joined the Veterans Golf Association last year and plays as often as possible. He has won 2 tournaments this year in the Senior B Division and enjoys the camaraderie of his fellow Veterans playing a game he loves. Bill and Debbie are members of the American Legion Post #20 in Fort Gibson, OK.

James Bellaire

Commander (retired) Jim Bellaire is a veteran with 33.5 years of active duty service. His love of golf comes from his father Gordy, who built Jim a set of clubs at the age of 8. From there he has dabbled in the game his entire life. Due to his military service as a member of the Polar Golf Association, Jim has been fortunate to play golf in many South American countries, the Antarctic, Australia, New Zealand, Figi and Hawaii.

Jim joined the Coast Guard at 18 years old. After attending boot camp in Cape May, New Jersey he was assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter POLAR STAR. While on POLAR STAR as an E2 and E3 Jim traveled the world, going to both the Arctic and Antarctic. In 1984, as a member of POLAR STAR’s crew Jim worked the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

After Hospital Corpsman A school, Jim was assigned afloat and ashore eventually being one of the first 10 selectees to a new Coast Guard officer accession program that sent him back to college to finish his bachelor’s degree. At the 11 year mark, Jim attended Coast Guard Officer Candidate School in Yorktown, Virginia. After OCS Jim was assigned to various afloat and ashore assignments. Highlights include Executive Officer positions on 3 cutters, Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Cutter HOLLYHOCK. In addition to representing the Coast Guard as the Coast Guard Liaison to the US Ambassador to Haiti which required him to live in Port au Prince Haiti for a year.

Upon retirement in July 2017 after 33.5 years of active-duty service, Jim was offered a position as the contract Site Lead at the Coast Guard’s Maritime Law Enforcement Academy in Charleston, South Carolina. He has been in this position for 6 years. Leading an excellent team of 31 instructors and instructional technologists.

Throughout his life Jim has placed a lot of value in service to the community. He has worked as a volunteer with the American Red Cross, who highlighted him early in his career for his abilities to help whenever there was a need. Most recently he worked with the USO as a senior volunteer supervisor for the Kingsmill LPGA Championship golf tournament in Williamsburg, Virginia. Additionally, Jim is a member of full life member of the VFW and other civil society organizations.

Jim has been a member of the Veteran’s Golf Association for 3 years. During that time he has won 4 tournaments, qualified and played in the Senior National Tournament in 2002 and is honored to participate in this year’s Armed Forces Cup.

In 2008, Ambassador Janet Sanderson honored Jim with the award of the U.S. State Department’s Franklin Award. This award, very rarely awarded to military members, is named for Benjamin Franklin in honor of his distinguished service as a public servant and U.S. diplomat, recognizes the achievements of individuals in a variety of areas of importance to the Department.  Jim received this award in recognition of his teamwork and crisis management during the 2008 Haitian riots. 

His military honors and awards include, the Meritorious Service Medal, four Coast Guard Commendation metals with the Operational distinguishing device, three Coast Guard Achievement medals with the Operational distinguishing device, two Commandants Letter of Commendation ribbons with the Operational distinguishing device, three Coast Guard Team ribbons, five Coast Guard Good Conduct medals, the Arctic and Antarctic service medals, the Coast Guard foreign service medal, the Expert Rifle medal and Sharpshooter Pistol ribbon, in addition to many coveted unit awards.

Jim has earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Strayer University and a Master’s in Education degree from the University of West Florida.

Jim is a native of Detroit, Michigan. He has been married to Maryanne for 35 years. Jim and Maryanne have 3 grown children, all of which are married. Jim and Maryanne are the proud grandparents of 5 grandchildren and anticipate have a 6th that will be born around Christmas time.

Mark Tolles

Food Service Specialist Mark Tolles (FS1), retired from the United States Coast Guard in 2004 after 21 wonderful years active duty, with 11 years of Sea Duty. I live in Bakersfield California with my wife of 43 years. We like to play golf as often as we can. We don’t get to play much in the summertime because it’s normally over 100. We enjoy our slow life with our GSD named Koa. We have 3 wonderful daughters, and 7 awesome grandchildren.

While in the Coast Guard I had the pleasure of working with the best men and women around. I’ve made lifelong friends that sometimes it goes ten, twenty years between seeing each other, but it’s just like we saw each other yesterday. I’ve been stationed on both coasts, from California to Washington to New Jersey to our favorite place, which was Hawaii, we were blessed to be stationed there for 8 years. I’ve been stationed on several different types of ships, from a 110’ patrol boat, a 210’ Medium Endurance Cutter to (my favorite) 5 different Bouy Tenders, Black Hulls as they are affectionately called, and which are the hardest working units in the Coast Guard. While stationed in Hawaii I had the privilege of sailing to Samoa, Guam, and to the Cook Islands. I had the privilege of working at Training Center Petaluma, while there I was a member of the TRACEN Fire Department.

I graduated with a BS in Criminal Justice (CSI) from Kaplan University (on-line) in 2012. Petty Officer’s military awards include the CG Achievement Medal, CG Unit Commendation Medal with 3 Gold Stars; CG Pistol Expert Ribbon; CG Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon with 2 Gold Stars; CG Meritorious Team Commendation Ribbon with 1 Gold Star; National Defense Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars; Humanitarian Service Medal with 1 Bronze Star, CG Sea Service Ribbon with 3 Bronze Stars; Coast Guard Recruiting Ribbon, and Six Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal.
After retirement I began working as a Reserve Police Officer with Kingsburg Police Department. Petty Officer Tolles currently works as a private Investigator, working Woker’s Comp Claims.

Mathew Bailey

Mathew Bailey served in the United States Coast Guard for 20 years at which time he retired as
a first class Boatswainsmate. Matt joined the USCG in 1996. His first tour of duty was on the
CG Cutter Gallatin whose primary mission was drug interdiction across the Caribbean; other
missions included touring Europe for 4 months to train the Coast Guard of multiple countries.
In the years that followed Matt was stationed at various small boat stations across the east
coast completing search and rescues, maritime law enforcement and federal fishery
regulations. He served as Company Commander for 3 years at the recruit training center in
Cape May as well later being chosen to teach at the Company Commander School on base
training the drill instructors.
It should be noted Matt did earn the title of Coastguardsmen of the Year for a daring rescue off
the coast of Atlantic City saving the life of an 8 y/o boy and the attempts to save the aunt’s life .
This rescue would later be published in a book used as part of the training curriculum at the
USCG training base.
Following retirement Matt decided to become a certified personal trainer and began work as
personal trainer at a local gym. Through dedication and a hard work ethic he quickly advanced
through the corporate ladder and become Operations Director of a well known health club.
Matt missed the law enforcement side of his military background and returned to a federal job
as Recreation Specialist at a local federal prison where he could combine his current civilian
work detail with his military background.
Matt recently assumed the position of NJ State Director for the VGA. He lives in NJ with his
wife of 20 years and has two sons – 18 and 16 years old.

Michael Bradshaw

Boatswains Mate First Class Michael W. Bradshaw served in the United States Coast Guard for 20 years retiring in October of 2020. Michael Joined the Coast Guard in 2000 straight out of high school from the small town of Hacksneck on Eastern Shore of Virginia.

After completing basic training in Cape May New Jersey, Michael went on to his first tour of duty located in Atlantic City, NJ. While stationed in Atlantic City Michael went on to get qualified to conduct Search and Rescue missions as a small boat operator, Law Enforcement and marine fisheries enforcement. Following Atlantic City Michael was sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to conduct security missions following the tragic events of 9/11. Petty Officer Bradshaw went on to complete 5 more tours of duty at various stations and ships across the United States.

It should be pointed out that Boatswain Mate First Class Bradshaw received numerous awards; to include the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, Coast Guard Achievement Medal and Army Achievement Medal.

The most notable for a daring rescue the night of November 15th 2014. Michael led a complex rescue off the North Carolina Coast while operating the 47 Motor Life Boat battling 15 to 20ft seas and winds in excess of 50 knots. Despite the complete loss of electronic navigation system on the 47MLB he demonstrated superior navigational skills and seamanship by rigging the vessel for tow transporting the three people on board back to safe harbor.

After retiring from the Coast Guard Michael returned working for the federal government onboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point located in Havelock, NC. He now enjoys his job working with aircraft, playing golf and his wonderful family Angie (wife) Reagan and Lana (2 daughters).

Michael Sparks

Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Mike Sparks has served in the U.S. Coast Guard for nearly 30 years. A native of West Virginia, he currently resides in Norfolk, Virginia with his wife and daughter.

Throughout his career, CWO Sparks has served in many different positions in locations ranging from Martha’s Vineyard to Puerto Rico. The bulk of his career has been spent conducting land and ship-based search and rescue and maritime law enforcement operations. Throughout his career he has been awarded numerous personal and unit level awards.

CWO Sparks graduated with a BS in History from American Military University and will be graduating from the University of Denver with a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership in June 2024.

Steve Bates

Chief Machinery Technician (Retired) Steve Bates resides in Newport News, Virginia with his wife, where he enjoys playing golf and spending time out on the water with his family on their boat.
Chief Bates retired from the US Coast Guard in 2018 after a combined 27 years of service, 4 reserve and 23 active. While primarily rated as a Machinery Technician, Chief Bates served in a variety of roles from a law enforcement team member, pollution responder, anti-terrorism force protection team member along with filling the normal roles of a Machinery Technician.
Throughout his time in service Chief Bates deployed many times in support of Desert Storm, Hurricane Katrina Support, Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom along with numerous shipboard patrols.
Chief Bates’ awards include but are not limited to Coast Guard Commendation Medal, Coast Guard Achievement Medal x3, Commandants Letter of Commendation x6, Humanitarian Service Medal x5, Meritorious Team Commendation x9, NATO Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Cuttermans insignia, Port Security Unit Insignia and Boat Forces Operations Insignia
In 2018 after retiring from the Coast Guard Chief Bates assumed the role of a Non-Nuclear Mechanical Inspector at Newport News Shipbuilding working on overhaul and new construction submarines. In 2022 Chief Bates switched roles at the shipyard and now works in the gage calibration lab as a Calibration Technician.
Chief Bates is the proud father of his son, step-daughter and two grandchildren, a third grandchild is on the way.

Stu Stryker

Chief Petty Officer Stu Stryker (Retired) resides in Branson, MO. He and his wife Dina moved to Branson in 2019. They enjoy the many activities that Branson has to offer, including several top-rated golf courses and numerous entertainment venues. They also have a hospitality ministry on their property that helps pastors and their families with lodging costs so they can better afford their vacation to Branson.

Chief Stryker retired from the United State Coast Guard in 2017 after almost 37 years of service between the USARNG and the USCG. He started his service with the South Dakota ARNG in 1981 as a Combat Engineer and completed his service as the Assistant School Chief at Training Center Yorktown, VA in 2017.

Chief Stryker has had a variety of specialties and assignments throughout his military journey. He was an Army Combat Engineer, Aviation Electrician and Chief Boatswain’s Mate. He has served on Land, at Sea and In the Air. Chief Stryker has served on every Coast in the United States as well as overseas in Bahrain during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Chief Stryker graduated with a BS degree in Mass Communications from Black Hills State College in 1985. During his time as a reservist in Morgan City, LA from 1996 to 2003 he earned his teachers certificate through the Troops to Teachers Program where he taught vocation education at two local High Schools. Throughout his career he has received numerous awards, decorations, and certifications.

In 2017, after retiring from the Coast Guard, Chief Stryker pursued two of his passions, nature, and golf. In the summer of 2017, he became and Park Ranger at Grand Canyon National Park. After his tour of duty with the National Park Service He attended the Golf Academy of America in Chandler, AZ, and graduated valedictorian of his class in 2019 with an Associate’s Degree in Golf Operations. He is currently the golf coach at Legacy Academy in Branson and loves passing his love of the game onto the next generation.

Chief Stryker has two daughters and six grandchildren. His older twin brothers, Scott and Steve are also members of the VGA. He always looks forward to spending quality time with them on the golf course during VGA events along with his other VGA brothers and sisters.

Tyler Bowden

Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Tyler Bowden is a dual-role Coast Guard member, currently serving as a drilling reservist at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia, PA, and as a full-time federal civilian at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC.

CWO Bowden’s career began in 2010 when he enlisted in the Coast Guard reserves and served for the first seven years on Active Duty fulfilling multiple contingency roles including Operation Deepwater Horizon (New Orleans Oil Spill), Operation Enduring Freedom (Guantanamo Bay), and multiple hurricane contingencies impacting the southeast US and Puerto Rico. In 2017, he transitioned back to reserve drill status (inactive duty). As a drilling reserve, he completed a four-year tour at Coast Guard Surface Forces Logistics Center, Mobile Support Unit, Baltimore, MD, and when promoted to CWO transferred to Philadelphia where he currently serves. His enlisted rating was Storekeeper and he was promoted to Finance and Supply Warrant Officer in April, 2022.

Tyler’s Coast Guard civilian career began in 2017 when he was hired into a budget analyst role at Coast Guard Command Control and Communications Service Center based out of Alexandria, VA. In 2019, Tyler was promoted into an appropriation manager and senior financial analyst position in the Office of Budget Execution under the CFO at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC, where he currently serves and plans to remain until retirement.

CWO Bowden is originally from West Palm Beach, FL and is married to and joined by Faviola (Perdomo) Bowden, also a Coast Guard reserve and civilian, of Houston, TX, and they currently reside in Quantico, VA. They have three children – Kyran (18), Mia (16) and Olivia (4). Tyler earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Purdue University in 2019 and has held certification as Defense Financial Manager since 2017.

CWO Bowden’s significant awards and achievements include two CG commendation medals, two achievement medals, global war on terror expeditionary medal, humanitarian service medal, military outstanding volunteer medal, and two Chief Financial Officer Awards for Excellence.