|ARLINGTON, Nov. 18, 2009 – Character was the focus as Scouting saluted the military yesterday. |
U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri told about 500 people from Boy Scouts' National Capital Area Council that the values of Boy Scouts and the military are constant and that both organizations seek to serve something greater than themselves.
This was the first Scout dinner saluting the military. Retired Navy Capt. Scott Gray, who now works with event sponsor General Dynamics, said he hopes to make the event an annual affair. The Crystal Gateway Marriott – a stone's throw from the Pentagon – hosted the event.
The council honored a servicemember from each service. Each honoree demonstrated the commitment to service that Scouting exemplifies and promotes, said former Veterans Affairs Secretary Togo West, an Eagle Scout and the event host. The Eagle Scout award is the highest in the organization.
The honorees are role models for youth and exemplify the values of both Scouting and the military, West said. “The Boy Scouts of America and the armed forces of the United States share ... a common bond of service and honor,” he said.
Skelton, also an Eagle Scout, spoke of his experiences in Scouting since December 1943, when he first became a Tenderfoot Scout. It was World War II, and Skelton, now the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, talked about how his Scout troop would send off older Scouts as they went to war.
He praised the council for hosting an event that ties Scouting with the military. “One builds character, and the military defends our freedoms,” he said. “Scouting is not just an organization, it is a way of life.”
The honorees are:
Army Staff Sgt. David R. Gibbons, based at Fort Bragg, NC
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Valerie Herrod, a bostswain's mate with the Navy Ceremonial Unit in Anacostia Naval Station, D.C.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. John A. Marshall, an aerospace medical expert at Andrews Air Force Base, MD
Marine Corps Sgt. Henry J. Reinewald, a recruiter in Detroit
- Coast Guard Petty Officer Lavelas D. Luckey, based at the Coast Guard Station in Baltimore
Gibbons enlisted in 2003 as one of the first soldiers to go directly into Special Forces. He is an Eagle Scout and served in Afghanistan. He now is an instructor at the Special Warfare Center and School, and is the Bear Den leader for his son Ethan's Cub Scout pack.
Herrod has served as the Ceremonial Guard's community service coordinator since she arrived in December 2007. She has organized her sailors to help with local Special Olympics and National Lands Day, and for working with wounded warriors and at the Armed Forces Retirement Home.
While an Air Force medic, Marshall deployed with NATO troops in Afghanistan, where he saved the life of a Canadian soldier. Here, he works closely to aid the homeless. He volunteers at a local soup kitchen and has initiated a blanket drive to aid the homeless.
Reinewald is another Eagle Scout. He joined the Marine Corps in 2001 and has deployed overseas as an artilleryman. Reinewald is a recruiter in Detroit and he hopes to work closely with recruits wishing to join the service.
Luckey received the Coast Guard Medal – the highest award in the service – for rescuing a 5-year old girl who was trapped in a burning car following an accident. He joined the Coast Guard in 1999 and has served aboard two ships.
“Those of you in uniform tonight, you are examples to our Scouts,” Skelton said. “That's what the young Scouts of today must learn. They need to follow your example, because they are going to be in your shoes and they need to be challenged to give the best that is in them.”