Directly after high school Josh joined the Army as an infantry soldier. In 2004 he was deployed to Iraq for 13 months and served as an automatic rifleman. He became a squad leader upon returning to Ft. Hood, TX in 2005. In 2006 he was riding his motorcycle to guard duty when he found himself in a collision. He broke three bones in his back, shattered his femur and ankle, and lost his right arm just above the elbow.
Josh was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center once he was stable enough to fly. During his 10 month stay at the hospital he was introduced to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing by founder Ed Nicholson and John Bass. PHWFF is an organization that teaches disabled veterans how to cast, fly fish, and tie flies as a form of mental and physical therapy. At first, he wanted nothing to do with fly fishing. Ed and John were patient and persistent and were able to get Josh out on the water soon after. Josh fell in love with fly fishing after catching his first trout on a fly rod. This opened the door and gave him the confidence to try other things he thought he could no longer do such as hunting, tying shoes, and more recently, changing diapers!
Josh medically retired from the Army as a Staff Sergeant. Upon returning home to Roanoke, VA, Josh assisted in starting a PHWFF chapter based at the Salem VA hospital. They offer casting, fishing, and fly tying there. On their first fly tying event, Josh made the decision to try to tie his first fly so not to look hypocritical when trying to get the other vets to participate. He instantly fell in love. Shortly after, Josh started his own company, Dead Drift Flies, tying flies. Later, he added a blog, guiding services and gear to his company and changed the name to Dead Drift Outfitters. Guides Matt Dooley and David Sisson joined the DDO team in 2014. Orvis picked up a fly that Josh originated in 2011 (Josh’s White Lightning) and an additional original in 2013 (Josh’s Wiggle Hellgrammite). A third has been added for 2015 (Josh’s Reaper Midge).
In December of 2014, Josh graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology. It was 7 years of going to school part time while working a full time job at an architecture/engineering firm, all the while working on his fly fishing business. Josh and his always supportive wife, Lisa, have a 5 year old daughter, Emma Jo, and a 2 year old son, Wyatt. God is good!