This group of people are positively impacting the lives of disabled veterans throughout their journey of recovery.
Founder and Chairman
Garry was born in New Rochelle, New York in May of 1943. He grew up in Rye, New York and attended High School at the Berkshire School in Massachusetts in 1961. After graduation Garry attended the University of Arizona in Tucson and worked at the Camelback Inn located in Scottsdale, Arizona. This sparked his interest in hotel administration which he would later study at Cornell University.
Garry served as an Administrative Officer in the United States Army from 1967-1969 during the Vietnam War. It is here where Garry’s compassion for our nations servicemen and women grew. After his time in the Army, he had a career in the restaurant and hotel business for over 20 years. Garry’s love for boating would eventually lead to him earning his Captains License. Running adventure charters on private yachts from Canada to the Virgin Islands for 15 years.
After September 11th, he saw the effects of war as our veterans returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan and realized that it was time to act. He wanted to ensure that these veterans got the respect that they deserved and, in the process, wanted to welcome home his peers.
Garry wanted to help with the emotional and physical healing of the veterans and service members in any way possible. His experience as a charter captain naturally led him to nature. His love for fishing and Alaska was a perfect match to by establish Healing Towers in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Since 2007 Garry and Healing Towers has served over 175 veterans and their family members on a week-long fishing adventure on his 42’ Sailing Trawler. In doing this he has created a sense of family and network community that has allowed our veterans and their families to watch over each other during their struggling times.
Garry’s hobbies are boating (1600-ton Masters License) and flying (4 different ratings).
Harry Yates was raised in Athens, Georgia.
Harry lived on the edge of a large forest as a kid. He and his friends spent most of their early years in those woods, creeks, and rivers. From a very early age, he developed a deep respect and love for the outdoors.
Harry would meet the love of his life in high school, and he started dating Margie during his first year in college. He and Margie would spend weekends scuba diving in Florida or the North Georgia mountains hiking and rock-climbing. He would graduate from the University of Georgia and receive his commission from the ROTC program.
He graduated in 1985 and went directly to the Infantry Officers Basic Course. Later that year, he would marry Margie.
Harry and Margie’s first assignment was with the 10th Mountain Division recently activated at Ft Benning, Georgia. Immediately, Margie was thrown into a leadership role as the only officer’s wife in the Company. She, by default, led the Company Commander’s family readiness group. Both Harry and Margie would quickly learn that the military’s combat mission was only part of the challenges placed on military leaders. “When a Soldier goes to war, his whole family serves.” This lesson is the principle that Harry uses to help Veterans today.
Harry served in the Army for 28 years. He rose to the rank of O-6 / Colonel. During that time, he served almost exclusively in Army tier-one contingency units or deployed. Much of that time as a paratrooper. His most dangerous assignments include Columbia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Harry’s career would essentially end one night with a non-combat-related injury, and ironically it happened in one of the safest parts of SWA. One evening outside his headquarters, he was struck by a fast-moving up-armored command vehicle. Luckily, Harry was traveling the following day into Iraq and wearing full body armor. The doctors believed that his body armor had saved his life. All bandaged up and limping; he would return to duty several days later. But unknown to anyone at the time, he had suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, the Invisible Injury.
This injury has taken a substantial emotional and physical toll on Harry. Although he suffers from other injuries, his TBI is the most significant disability. Harry received care from the Army for many years and was finally medically retired due to his injuries. He would benefit from many Disabled Veteran non-profits. On one such event, standing knee-deep in a North Georgia mountain stream with a fly rod and a trout in each hand, he realized this was the best therapy for him. Later through an exciting set of circumstances, Harry would find his way to Healing Towers. The Yates family would be changed forever.
Since 2018, Harry has been the Program Lead for Project Healing Water Fly Fishing Program at Auburn, AL/Columbus, GA. Today he sits on the Board of Directors of Healing Towers Inc.
Gene Dufrene medically retired from the US Army as an Infantry Platoon Sergeant after 25 years of honorable service. Gene with his extensive civilian law enforcement background and was tasked with training up several hundreds of Iraq police officers from five districts in and around the Hilla & Anbar Province. Those Iraq police under a train the trainer program created by Gene and his Tiger Team were able to retake and sustain control of their respective areas of operations. This greatly enhanced the US Army’s mission to conduct combat operations in the Hilla & Anbar Provinces. To this date, those areas are still safe and protected by those police trained by Gene and his Team!
After his retirement, Gene struggled with his physical and mental injuries for years. Ultimately Garry Morfit with Healing Towers met Gene! Garry invited Gene to Healing Towers for a week in extremely remote Ketchikan, Alaska. Garry was able to mentor and guide Gene over these last several years. Gene now assists with the operations of Healing Towers and mentoring other veterans that he takes fishing in that same remote area of Ketchikan Alaska. When not in Alaska, Gene and his wife Gina and their grandkids operate a small honeybee farm, G&G Farm (Grandparents and Grandkids Farm), in South Mississippi.
Clay Brooker is originally from Miami, Florida, and he attended college at Princeton University, graduating in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics. Thereafter, he attended law school at the University of Florida, graduating summa cum laude in 1994. Clay is licensed to practice law in Florida, and he has been actively doing so for 27 years. His practice primarily focuses on land use, zoning, and real property litigation. Since 2010, he has been certified by the Florida Bar as a specialist in city, county and local government law. Clay is a life-long boater and enjoys taking his boat, a 26-foot center console named the Carolina Girl, out on the waters around Naples, Florida, where he lives. Clay is married to Lauren (who hails from Winston Salem, North Carolina…..hence the name of his boat), and they have one daughter (Taylor, age 11).
We Need Your Help
While we've done our best to provide the essentials for our visiting veterans - lodging and an gear-and-ship included Alaskan fishing trip - the fact is that our program only continues with the support of patriots like yourself. Donate today and know that you are helping to pay for a once in a lifetime trip for a veteran who needs it!