Eagles in the News Notable Eagles

Eagles in the News

June 2011 - Minnesota Teen Named American Legion Eagle Scout of Year

A year after being named a runner-up for the American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year award, Robert B. Rasmussen took top honors in 2011. The soon-to-be senior at Hutchinson (Minnesota) High School earned the award and a $10,000 college scholarship in May.

Now 17, Robert became an Eagle Scout in 2006. His Eagle Scout leadership service project involved building and installing 32 purple martin habitats in area parks.

But his community service didn’t end there. He spent the last two summers making more than 700 concrete markers that he has placed on unmarked veterans’ graves in a local cemetery. Each marker includes a star-shaped bronze medallion and a receptacle for an American flag. As part of the project, Robert also created an updated list of veterans buried in the cemetery and developed a walking tour of the site.

Robert is as active in school as he is in his community. He participates in band, choir, Key Club, football, and student government. He plans to attend the University of Notre Dame and pursue a degree in psychology or law.

He already has a good start on his college fund. In addition to his two awards from the American Legion, Robert received a $1,000 Hall/McElwain Merit Scholarship from NESA in 2007.

June 2011 - Eagle Scout Saves a Life While Shooting the Rapids

The Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” took on added urgency for Eagle Scout Phil Murdock as he piloted a raft full of Scouts down the Snake River in July 2010. He had just beached his boat near a jumping rock when one of the Scouts collapsed in the boat.

Murdock thought the boy was having an epileptic seizure, but he soon discovered the situation was far more serious. “He lost all color. He had no pulse. There was clearly no breathing,” he recalled. “We realized we had a serious problem.”

Murdock immediately started CPR, but when that didn’t revive the boy, he decided they would have to reach medical help—help that lay beyond a final set of rapids. Volunteers positioned the boy on a piece of marine plywood in the back of a raft and launched the raft, while Murdock and the boy’s father continued giving CPR. When Murdock tired, 19-year-old Eagle Scout Titan Sweeten took over.

The boat finally reached a takeout point where the U.S. Forest Service had installed an automated external defibrillator. Murdock used the AED on the Scout, reviving him on the third try. The Scout was soon airlifted to a children’s hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, where doctors expressed amazement that he had survived after 30 minutes of CPR. He has since fully recovered.

Murdock was amazed as well. “The rates for CPR are not good to begin with—a 5- or 10-percent survival rate under good conditions,” he said. “It was such a chain of little miracles that made it all possible—and, of course, part of the miracle is being prepared in the first place.”

April 2011 - Eagle Scout Cyclists Ride to Support Japan

In ordinary times, a bicycle trip from one end of Japan to the other—a distance of some 2,000 miles—would be impressive but maybe not newsworthy. But these are not ordinary times in that Pacific nation. The triple whammy of an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear disaster has turned life upside down for millions of Japanese residents.

It has also upended the plans of two bike-riding Eagle Scouts.

For months, Eagle Scouts Scott Keenan and Andrew Marston, along with Andrew’s friend, Dylan Gunning, have been planning to ride from Cape Sata to Cape Soya, a trip expected to take about 45 days. Once disaster struck Japan, they had to decide whether they would be in harm’s way—or simply in the way—if they carried out their plans.

In late March, they made what seemed an obvious decision: Continue the ride, but turn it into a fundraiser for disaster relief. Figuring that they would collectively ride about 10,000 kilometers, they set a goal of raising $10,000, with the money going to Samaritan’s Purse and the Red Cross. They have already reached more than half of their goal.

The riders are blogging about their adventure, which began April 14, at http://www.unframedworld.com/category/japan-by-bicycle/. Visit the site to learn more about the trip.

March 2011 - Scout Camp Experience Launches Shooting Career

All through his first week at Camp Tom Hale in 2003, 11-year-old Jon Michael McGrath heard shotguns firing in the distance. So when he got the chance to participate in a free shoot at the end of the week, he jumped at the chance.

It was the first time he had ever used a shotgun, but he hit nearly every target.

At the end of the session, the range master told Jon Michael’s father, Jon, “You really ought to get your son involved in shooting sports. He’s done very well.” The elder McGrath agreed and soon introduced his son to the Tulsa Gun Club in Oklahoma. Four months later, Jon Michael earned a gold medal in an entry-level world event in San Antonio, hitting 122 out of 125 targets.

Over the next few years, Jon Michael honed his skills and competed in the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation’s Scholastic Clay Target Program, or SCTP. In 2004, he won the SCTP national championship for international skeet. In 2010, he became the first American to win the world championship gold medal in men’s junior skeet. And earlier this year, Jon Michael and teammates Vincent Hancock and Frank Thompson—known collectively as USA Team Gold—tied the world record in men’s skeet at this season’s first World Cup Series competitions in Concepción, Chile.

Despite a schedule that has taken him around the world, Jon Michael remained active in Scouting throughout high school. He became an Eagle Scout in 2009.

In a 2010 radio interview on Sirius Satellite Radio, he credited Scouting with giving him his start. “Without Boy Scouts giving me the opportunity to try something new, I might not be here today,” he said. “I tell almost everyone I talk to: Keep an open mind, be willing to try something new, and go and out just enjoy yourself.”

March 2011 - Young Eagle Scout Joins University Board of Regents

Eagle Scout Jake Wellman has been named a student regent on the Board of Regents for the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University. He will represent his school, UNM, while the other student regent, Christopher Dulany, will represent NMSU.

“Our student regents are a welcome reminder of the bright future in store for our universities and our state,” Gov. Susana Martinez said in a press release. “These talented young people will play an important role in providing a link between their student bodies, their board of regents, and my administration.”

The regents post is just one of many Wellman, a political science undergraduate, has held. He is a member of the President’s Strategic Advisory Team at UNM, a leadership intern at Think New Mexico, and the former attorney general and chief of staff for the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico.

But the Albuquerque resident’s first leadership roles were in Scouting. A Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Wellman served as chapter chief, lodge chief, section vice chief and chief, and national chief in 2008.

“I am both honored and humbled by such an opportunity to serve,” he said. “I look forward to applying the values and leadership experiences from Scouting to my public service on the Board of Regents.”

Wellman was national chief during the massive ArrowCorps5 service project—Scouting’s largest service effort since World War II—so interacting with university regents and state officials shouldn’t be a problem for him.

February 2011 - Eagle Scout Earns Prestigious Honor Medal

Nearly two years after saving Celina, Ohio, resident Hubert Allen’s life, Eagle Scout and retired paramedic Randy Engel has received the BSA’s rare Honor Medal. Allen had been mowing the grass next door to Engel’s home when Allen lost control of his riding mower and backed into a pond. When Engel heard Allen’s screams, he jumped into the water, pulled him to safety, and performed CPR.
Despite receiving the Honor Medal, Engel downplayed his accomplishment. “I’m not a hero,” he said. “All I am is a God-fearing man that wanted to help this fellow out.”
Just 2,271 Honor Medals have been presented since the award debuted in 1923, each one to a Scout or an adult leader who has shown unusual heroism in saving or attempting to save a life at considerable risk to self. Engel serves as committee chair of Troop 69 in Celina.

February 2011 - Eagle Scout State Troopers Back Scouting in New Jersey

One of this year’s biggest Scouting events, the New Jersey State Police Camporee, will bring together 10,000 Scouts from across New Jersey this May for a weekend of Scouting fun and law-enforcement exploration. Powering this massive event is a unique organization: the New Jersey State Troopers Eagle Scout Association.
Consisting of 65 state troopers who are also Eagle Scouts, the association was formed not long after the first New Jersey State Police Camporee in 2004, which demonstrated how well aligned Scouting and law enforcement are. Among the Eagle Scouts who spearheaded the association’s founding were Lt. Col. (ret.) Frank Rodgers of the State Police, Scout Executive Ethan Draddy of the Jersey Shores Council, and Distinguished Eagle Scout Bray Barnes, the council’s executive vice president.
In addition to running camporees, members make presentations at Eagle Scout courts of honor, serve as merit badge counselors, and volunteer in other leadership positions in councils across the state. As their mission statement explains, they seek to support Scouting while enhancing the image of the New Jersey State Police, thus promoting future recruiting, mentoring, and community relations efforts among the youth and the citizens of the state.

August 2010 - Tuskegee Airman Honored During Jamboree

The 2010 National Scout Jamboree is in the books. One of the very special ceremonies at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia was the presentation of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award to Col. Charles McGee (center), one of the original Tuskegee Airmen—a group of America’s first black military airmen who played a large role in World War II.

“He’s a national treasure,” NESA jamboree chief Shawn L. Briese said during the ceremony. “It was an absolute honor to be able to sit in his house and have this conversation with him. He walked me back into the study, and on his wall in the study was his Boy Scout history. In that frame was the Eagle Scout medal and the Silver Beaver medal. It was at that time I decided that Col. McGee was going to get a Distinguished Eagle Scout Award if I had any say in the matter.”

For more sights and sounds from the historic jamboree, visit www.bsajamboree.org.

August 2010 - Eagles Unite at Coast Guard Exhibit

The U.S. Coast Guard sponsored an exhibit at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. It involved 106 former Scouts—70 who are Eagle Scouts—who played a large role in building and staffing the two-acre site.

The group assembled for an Eagle Scout photo in front of the Coast Guard portal. At that point, the moment became more memorable when the nearly 60 Eagles present raised their hands to form the Scout sign and spoke the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

By the last day of the jamboree, more than 70,000 Scouts and visitors had passed through the exhibit.

Eagle Scout Project Goes to the Dogs (and Cats)

Scott Krech wants to be a surgeon, so he was excited last year to do a surgery-related Eagle Scout leadership service project. He didn’t put anyone under the knife, however. Instead, he transformed a storage closet at the Animal House rescue shelter in Fort Collins, Colorado, into a surgical suite.

Originally, Krech had planned to build a storage shed, but when the Animal House staff suggested the surgery idea, he jumped at the opportunity. Besides learning how to estimate costs and secure donations, he learned how to hang doors and drywall, level cabinets, and work around challenges such as pipes that intruded into the space.

He also learned something that nearly every Eagle Scout candidate learns. “I didn’t know how much work it was going to be when I started out,” he told The Denver Post.

May 2010 - Eagle Scout Project Goes to the Dogs (and Cats)

Scott Krech wants to be a surgeon, so he was excited last year to do a surgery-related Eagle Scout leadership service project. He didn’t put anyone under the knife, however. Instead, he transformed a storage closet at the Animal House rescue shelter in Fort Collins, Colorado, into a surgical suite.

Originally, Krech had planned to build a storage shed, but when the Animal House staff suggested the surgery idea, he jumped at the opportunity. Besides learning how to estimate costs and secure donations, he learned how to hang doors and drywall, level cabinets, and work around challenges such as pipes that intruded into the space.

He also learned something that nearly every Eagle Scout candidate learns. “I didn’t know how much work it was going to be when I started out,” he told The Denver Post.

Eagle Scout Stories: Tales From the Trails of Scouting’s Highest Rank

The National Eagle Scout Association has joined with Harris Connect LLC, the nation’s largest producer of college directories, to create Eagle Scout Stories: Tales From the Trails of Scouting’s Highest Rank. Eagle Scouts will be invited by mail and e-mail to submit a photo and story for publication in this historic collection celebrating the Boy Scouts of America’s 100th Anniversary. Please call the number on your postcard to order your copy today!

Eagle Scouts who did not receive a postcard may call Harris Connect directly, toll-free, at 800-877-6554.

February 2010 - Eagle Project Does the (Hat) Trick

When a hockey player registers a hat trick (three goals in the same game), fans traditionally shower the ice with hats—hundreds of them, in fact.

As a hockey fan, Mike Behme often wondered what happens to all those hats. As a Scout, the Findlay, Pennsylvania, teen decided to find out. When he learned that the hats are tossed in the trash, Mike knew he had the makings of an Eagle Scout leadership service project.

Since early 2009, Mike has been working with the Pittsburgh Penguins to collect, clean, and redistribute hat-trick hats to charity. His Hat Tricks 4 Humanity project has collected nearly 3,700 hats—2,200 from five hat tricks at games, and another 1,500 from students at Mike’s school and other people who have learned about the project. While some of the hats had to be thrown away, most have been cleaned and distributed to children and adults in Pennsylvania, Costa Rica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. The donated hats include everything from Penguins ball caps to winter hats to a Christmas-themed fedora.

Mike has long since reached his goal of collecting 2,500 hats, but he hasn’t quit. “Now it’s for charity work,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Knowing I can help people is a major reason I want to keep doing it.”

January 2010 - Eagle Scout Receives Rare Honor

Less than 5 percent of all Boy Scouts earn the Eagle Scout Award, making Scouting’s highest rank a rare honor. But one Scout, Eli Wittum, recently earned an even more uncommon honor: the Medal of Honor With Crossed Palms. Only a few hundred people have earned this award, which goes to Scouts who risk their lives to save another person.

Eli was swimming in the Yadkin River in Cooleemee, North Carolina, in May 2009 when he heard screams from up the river. Another teen, Marlo Porfirio Ramos, had been caught in fast-moving water and was unable to save himself. Eli dove under the water, pulled Marlo above the surface, and floated 200 feet down the river before he was able to grab a tree branch to stop their movement. With the help of nearby fisherman, he pulled Marlo out of the water, checked his pulse and breathing, and called for an ambulance.

Marlo was able to return to school a few days later. A few months later, Eli received the Medal of Honor With Crossed Palms.

January 2010 - Continuing a Family Tradition

Given that his father, grandfather, and brother all earned the Eagle Scout Award, there was no reason Brian Miller wouldn’t also become an Eagle Scout. Well, maybe one—Brian is blind.

A student at Philadelphia’s Overbrook School for the Blind, Brian could easily have settled for less than perfection. Instead, he persevered, reaching Scouting’s highest rank in January 2010. Brian told the Delaware County Daily Times that he drew much of his inspiration from other Eagle Scouts he encountered while working at Camp Ockanickon. “I could finally see the mountaintop,” he said. “It would take serious devotion, but I could do it, and I did.”

The Boy Scouts of America allows Scouts with permanent disabilities to complete alternate requirements for the Eagle Scout Award. Brian, however, needed only one accommodation. Since he couldn’t identify birds by sight, he learned to identify them by their songs, using a CD of bird songs from the National Audubon Society.

09/14/2009 (Holland, Michigan)  

Leaving No Trace

Many Eagle Scout leadership service projects involve building something—a nature trail, park benches, or a memorial garden, for instance. Aaron Edgel’s project took the opposite approach. He and his 25 volunteers removed a collapsed water tower—all 10 tons of it—from the Sanctuary Woods Preserve near Holland, Michigan. Built in 1913, the tower collapsed in the 1960s and had lain in ruins ever since. Graffiti artists had decorated it, vandals had built fires around it, but nobody else had touched it—until Aaron came along.

Removing the tower, which took more than 400 hours, was only the culmination of Aaron’s work. He had to get approval from the local parks and fire departments and recruit businesses that could help cut the tower into Scout-sized pieces.

“I’ve learned that there is no simple way to do something like this,” Aaron told The Holland Sentinel. “I learned about leadership, and I’ve learned about getting permission.” He also learned that you can leave a legacy by leaving no trace.

08/05/2009 (Afghanistan)  

Building for the Future in Afghanistan

The Eagle Scout trail has no end, and it leads to some surprising places. For Eagle Scout Dustin Koslowsky, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, that trail led to Afghanistan’s Panjshir province. There, as part of a U.S.-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), the Fort Worth, Texas, Eagle Scout has spent much of 2008 and 2009 building a school for girls.

A PRT engineer, Koslowsky oversaw the work of a local contractor and construction workers in building the eight-classroom Haish Saidqi Girls’ School. More than 500 girls, along with a handful of boys, will attend the school, which was dedicated on June 23, 2009.

The school represents a small step in the revival of the Afghan school system. Under the Taliban regime, girls were not allowed to attend school at all. Even today, only 30 percent of girls reach the fifth grade, compared to 56 percent of boys.

08/05/2009 (Calvert City, KY)  

The Heart of an Eagle Scout

It might have been appropriate if Mitchell Overby had only reached the rank of Life Scout. After all, the Life badge would have served as a fitting reminder of the February 2008 heart transplant that saved the Calvert City, Kentucky, resident’s life.

Mitchell persevered, however, reaching Scouting’s highest rank in March 2009. For his Eagle Scout leadership service project, he collected supplies and prepared meals for the Ronald McDonald House in Nashville, Tennessee—the same facility where he and his family lived for six weeks after his transplant.

Now 18, Mitchell shows no signs of cutting back on his Scouting involvement. This summer, he worked at Camp Roy C. Manchester and served on the staff of his council’s National Youth Leadership Training course. He recently signed up as an assistant Scoutmaster in his home troop, Troop 422.

08/05/2009 (Spring Hill, FL)  

The Lone Eagle Scout

Lone Scouting began in 1915 as a way for boys from remote areas to participate in Scouting. Although it seems like a throwback to earlier times, the program is still available. Recently, one Lone Scout—John V. Ricciardi of Spring Hill, Florida—became an Eagle Scout.

John has faced numerous health issues that prevented his full participation in Scouting, but they haven’t kept him from reaching Scouting’s highest rank. With that accomplishment behind him, John is already giving back to Scouting by helping a fellow Scout who has cerebral palsy earn his own Eagle Scout badge.

07/06/2009 (San Diego County)  

Leading the Way in Water Conservation

In xeriscaping (pronounced zir-ə-skāp), water conservation drives what is planted. Minimizing grassy areas and maximizing the use of indigenous and drought-resistant plants are measures that help conserve water.

Despite its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, California’s San Diego County faces frequent droughts. To help fight this problem, a group of Eagle Scout candidates is re-landscaping Imperial Beach City Hall using water-saving xeriscaping techniques. Two Eagle projects have been completed at the site, with three more in the works.

“Leading by example and showing how easy and beautiful it is to create a water-sensitive landscape will hopefully inspire others to do the same,” said Troop 53’s Austin Allen, one of the first Scouts to complete his Eagle Scout service project at the site.

07/06/2009 (Lakeville, Minnesota)  

One Good Turn Deserves Another

One day in August 2008, 48-year-old Eagle Scout Hap Stokes and his son, Charlie, 16, traveled to Colorado, where they climbed 14,259-foot Longs Peak. As they hiked down from the summit that afternoon, a vicious thunderstorm hit, threatening everyone on the mountain. Along the trail, the Stokeses encountered 21 stranded hikers. They stopped to treat several for hypothermia and then helped everyone leave the mountain safely.

When Eagle Scout Paul Corbin, an adult leader with Charlie’s Troop 268 in Lakeville, Minn., heard the story, he nominated the Stokeses for the BSA’s Medal of Merit, which was awarded last month.

06/17/2009 (Minneapolis)  

To describe one Minnesota teenager as "one in a million" is an understatement – by half. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) today announced that Anthony Thomas, 16, of Lakeville, Minn., has been named the 2 millionth Eagle Scout since the first Eagle badge was awarded in 1912.