Since 1910 the Boy Scouts of America have been molding and mentoring the young men of America into future leaders and upstanding members of society.
The Scouts have made it their mission to hold young men accountable to their creed by exposing them to Scout leaders who make it their mission to teach them life skills and lessons to enable them to think on their feet and take care of any situation that may arise and always “Be Prepared.”
Kullen Langston, 16, a Life Scout in Boy Scout Troop 119, has been scouting since he was a boy, devoting himself to growing in his faith and upholding the precepts set forth by the Scouts. He is serious about scouting, so much so he recently came up with an Eagle Scout service project that seamlessly blends his love of scouting with his life as the son of a U.S. Marine.
“To me, being an Eagle Scout means having the ability to lead others, even while under pressure,” Langston said. “I decided that I wanted to do this project to help better honor the Marines and Soldiers who fought and died in the battle at Belleau Wood, France.”
Belleau Wood was the scene of a bloody 26-day battle between the Soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division, Marines of the 4th Marine Brigade and elements of three German divisions in June 1918. Nearly 700 Americans died. Another 7,300 were wounded. It is where modern history for the Marine Corps really started.
Langston’s idea was to travel 340 miles from his home in Stuttgart to the battlefield in France to preserve a series of seven plaques placed 15 years ago by officers of the U.S. Marine Corps Basic School class of 1998.
The Class of 1998 had the plaques created and placed so visitors can walk through the battlefield and read a synopsis of the battle as they tour the site.
Unfortunately, funding restrictions meant the plaques were placed on the ground without pedestals to secure them or keep them from becoming covered in leaves, mud or snow.
Langston’s project would rectify that.
“We will use pre-fabricated concrete blocks as the base, which we will anchor together using quick-mix concrete and re-bar, and finally attach the granite plaque to the top of the pedestal using wedged bolts,” said Langston, discussing his project. “With the plaques sitting on the ground with nothing to anchor them down, the cemetery caretaker, Mr. David Atkinson, is afraid that they might be stolen. Securing these bronze plaques in Belleau Wood is not only necessary for the cemetery; it also means preserving historical features for future generations to enjoy.”
The project took months to plan, arrange the funding, source the materials, and troubleshoot the execution to ensure the plaques were at the appropriate height for visitors to read and high enough off the ground to prevent decay.
Once the supplies were sourced, Troop 119 Scouts and their families spent four days in July building, transporting and erecting the plaques to complete the project, and help the American Battlefield and Monument Commission, which oversees the Belleau Wood monument. In all, more than 30 volunteers contributed 740 hours of volunteer time.
Langston was able to see his vision come to fruition just in time before he relocated to Cedar City, Utah.
He is now completing the application process to be approved for advancement to the rank of Eagle Scout. This includes an appearance before a board of review, where the project is assessed and the Scout interviewed. Though normally conducted in person, Langston’s will be conducted via Skype. Upon a successful board of review, Langston will receive his Eagle Scout award at a court of honor with his new troop in Utah.