On May 28, 1963, Bill Wenger completed his Eagle Scout Board of Review, becoming an Eagle Scout. On April 23, 2023, Colonel (Retired) William V. Wenger (1963) was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award by Orange County Council and the Boy Scouts of America. A lifetime of service to his community and nation separates the two events.
Wenger began his Scouting journey in 1954 in the Long Beach Area Council (California). As a youth, for two years, he was the leader of an honor society similar to Order of the Arrow. He also served on staff and as staff director at the council owned Camp Tahquitz. Upon becoming an adult, he continued his service in Scouting as an Assistant Scoutmaster, Explorer Post Advisor, Camp Commissioner, and as a Member of the Long Beach Council Executive Council.
Wenger served more than 42 years as a commissioned officer in service to our country. During the Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles in 1992, he served as an Infantry Battalion commander, providing military support to law enforcement and helping to restore peace. His article The Los Angeles Riots: A Battalion Commander’s Perspective, was lauded and used for instructional purposes by others in the Army command structure. His Infantry battalion task force also responded to the 1994 Northridge earthquake, a devastating event which caused almost $100 billion in damages (2023 dollars) and killed more than 60 people.
Wenger’s commitment to service to others can be seen in his actions after he officially retired from military active service. As a direct result of the attack on our nation on 9/11, he voluntarily returned to active service as an Infantry Airborne Ranger Colonel. He served four combat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan in that capacity.
Amazingly, in what little free time he had while serving in those war-torn countries, he organized and inspired fellow international Scouters to revive, develop, support and expand the Scouting programs in both of those countries!
Wenger has served Scouting locally, nationally, and internationally for more than 65 years. Currently he is an advisor to Post 558, the Infantry Explorer Post, a part of the Learning for Life program, in Orange County Council, California.
When asked about his most cherished Scouting memory, Wenger replied: “In 2011, in Kabul, Afghanistan, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and having dinner with two Distinguished Eagle Scouts; Neil Armstrong and James Lovell. As we dined, both astronauts, military veterans and life-long contributors to Scouting, chose to not talk about their space adventures, our mutual military combat experiences, but about all Scouting meant to them and the progress Scouters for Afghan Scouting was making in supporting and expanding Scouting in Afghanistan.”
In addition to his lifetime of serving Scouting and his service in the military, Wenger has worked as a volunteer, member of civic service organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the Association of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Ranger Association and many others. As a result, he has been awarded significant local and national awards, including two Presidential Service Awards.
The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award was established in 1969. It is awarded to an Eagle Scout for distinguished service in his profession and to his community for a period of at least 25 years after attaining the level of Eagle Scout. Other requirements include significant accomplishment in one’s career and a solid record of continued community volunteer involvement. Only about 1 in 1,000 Eagle Scouts are so recognized. It is a rare award indeed, and it is well deserved by William Wenger.