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Boy Scout Collects WWII vets' memories
A 16-year old Boy Scout collects interviews with the veterans to qualify for his Eagle Scout rank


November is the month we remember our Veterans… A Columbus-area Boy Scout is trying to ensure those memories last a long time. Kyle Miller is spending much of his time these days interviewing World War Two vets about their service. WOSU's Marilyn Smith reports.

Smith on eagle scout project

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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.

“Were you deployed to Europe?”

“I got over there just in time for the Battle of the Bulge.”

 “Lucky you.”

The Battle of the Bulge is one of Kyle’s favorite subjects since learning that’s where his 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. Kyle’s mother Margot, says the group fully embraced him.

“They are his friends. He has become very close to them. He has done eulogies at their funerals.”

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. Kyle’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.

“The 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.”

One of the scouts recruited by Kyle to help is 12-year old Ethan Keller.

“There are a lot of veterans out there that we haven’t gotten to yet and some still have to be discovered so that’s why I’m helping to do this Eagle Scout project.”

In the course of their work, the boys discovered 90-year-old Wib Justi who served in the army in Saipan and Guam.

“Everything 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 I’d never had the opportunity to go”.

The boys also talk to 92-year old vet John Bergmann. He, too, served in the army during World War 2. Stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland, Bergmann traveled the country doing top-secret work as a code breaker.

“We 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.”

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, he’s already learned a lot.

“They’ve given me a better understanding of what service to a greater cause means.”

 “So when you’re old enough do you plan to sign up?

 “For what?’

“The service.”

I have not decided yet. Right now I’m just trying to make Eagle.”

Kyle’s dad William is confident that will happen.  Kyle has already written a book about the veterans he met in the Litsenberger group.

“He’ll get his Eagle. He’s earned that piece of it. We’re pretty much done with that part of it. I don’t think he’s going to let this go. He’s havin’ too much fun.”

Listener Comments:

What a wonderful story about Kyle Miller and his goal!

Posted by: Reiko McKendry (Bloomfield Hills, MI) on November 28, 2012 9:11AM
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