By Carra Higgins
Sophia’s Boy Scout Troop 75 has a rich history that dates back to the 1930s. It’s that history and tradition of military service that enabled its current Scouts and their families to honor Veterans, including former Troop 75 members, in the nation’s capital on hallowed grounds.
In October, approximately 20 Scouts ages 11 to 16, dressed in their Class A uniforms, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. That honor has only been given to one other West Virginia Boy Scout Troop.
Scoutmaster Tony Wheby explained the Troop was nominated for the honor by U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall and it was eventually approved because more than 200 Troop 75 members previously served their country during World War II. That military service continued through the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well, Wheby said.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guard is a very somber experience and one that had a profound influence on the young men, Wheby said. Members of the Scout troop usually enjoy having a good time and laughing, Wheby explained, but he and the family members of the Scouts saw a change in them as they witnessed and experienced the location and event.
During the Vietnam War, three men who were once Troop 75 Scouts were killed during their time of service. To make the trip to Washington, D.C. even more meaningful and to further honor veterans, the Scouts went to the Vietnam Memorial to conduct a ceremony to remember the three Scouts — Cpl. Bobby Wayne Armes, Spc. Jackie Everett Bolen Jr., and Pvt. 1st Class Richard Wayne Bryant — who had also once worn the same uniform as the Scouts.
Wheby said the troop members made plaques and placed them at the memorial to honor Armes, Bolen and Bryant. They also played “Taps” and made rubbings of their names, which are now displayed in the Troop 75 cabin.
“It was very personal,” Wheby said.
Although the trip was designed to honor veterans and their own, Troop 75 also represented the area and West Virginia with a flag ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
The young men and their families also had a private tour of the White House, where they met President Barack Obama’s family dog, Bo, and had the opportunity to see museums and other points of interest in Washington, D.C.
Wheby said the trip was helped by a donation from Scott and Annette Allison, owners of the Lester Square McDonald’s. The Allisons assisted in the purchase of uniform pants for the troop, which they did not have. Troop 75 re-formed a little more than a year ago and its members did not have their full dress uniforms because Wheby says the troop wants to ensure that anyone can participate in Boy Scouts regardless of finances.
Troop 75 meets every Tuesday night from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the historic Sophia Scout Cabin.