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Pickerington Boy Scout Seeks Veteran’s Stories
Listen to the Story
November is the month we remember our Veterans. A Pickerington Boy Scout is trying to ensure that those memories last a long time. Kyle Miller is spending much of his time these days interviewing World War Two vets about their service.
On this warm, sunny Saturday afternoon, 16-year old Kyle Miller visits Wesley Glen Retirement Center in Worthington where he talks with 91-year old Ralph Stacy about his Army service during World War Two.
Kyle: â€œWere you deployed to Europe?â€
Ralph: â€œI got over there just in time for the Battle of the Bulge.â€
Kyle: â€œLucky you.â€
The Battle of the Bulge is one of Kyleâ€™s favorite subjects since learning thatâ€™s where his great-grandfather fought. That, coupled with an interest in history and the military led Kyle at the age of 12 to join the Litsinberger Chapter of Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. Kyleâ€™s mother Margot, says the group fully embraced him.
â€œThey are his friends. He has become very close to them. He has done eulogies at their funerals.â€
Now Kyle is collecting the stories of other veterans like Ralph Stacy as part of his project to earn his Eagle, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. Kyleâ€™s goal is to collect and preserve the stories of one-thousand veterans. To do that, his dad, William says, Kyle has enlisted the help of other Scouts.
â€œThe goal behind an Eagle project is to have a demonstration of leadership, of being able to demonstrate organizational skills and to deliver service to the community in some shape or form.â€
One of the scouts recruited by Kyle to help is 12-year old Ethan Keller.
â€œThere are a lot of veterans out there that we havenâ€™t gotten to yet and some still have to be discovered so thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m helping to do this Eagle Scout project.â€
In the course of their work, the boys discovered 90-year-old Wib Justi who servedÂ in the army in Saipan and Guam.
â€œEverything was new, of course, for a person who had never been in army combat before and to go a different part of the world which as a farm boy without much money Iâ€™d never had the opportunity to goâ€.
The boys also talk to 92-year old vet John Bergmann. He, too, served in the army during World War Two. Stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland, Bergmann traveled the country doing top-secret work as a code breaker.
â€œWe were never allowed to tell anybody what we were doing. Nobody. And if we would have been caught we would either been shot or taken to Leavenworth for the rest of the war.â€
Kyle estimates that after talking with Bergmann and other vets at Wesley Glen he will have 145 interviews toward the 1-thousand he hopes to collect. To qualify for his Eagle Scout rank, Kyle must complete the project by the time he turns 18. But, he says, heâ€™s already learned a lot.
â€œTheyâ€™ve given me a better understanding of what service to a greater cause means.â€
â€œSo when youâ€™re old enough do you plan to sign up?
Kyle: â€œFor what?â€™
Kyle: I have not decided yet. Right now Iâ€™m just trying to make Eagle.â€
Kyleâ€™s dad William is confident that will happen.Â Kyle has already written a book about the veterans he met in the Litsinberger group.
â€œHeâ€™ll get his Eagle. Heâ€™s earned that piece of it. Weâ€™re pretty much done with that part of it. I donâ€™t think heâ€™s going to let this go. Heâ€™s havinâ€™ too much fun.â€