Scout honors hometown heroes

It was Josh Brant’s last chance to prove he could soar with the eagles as he appraoches the end of a celebrated Boy Scout career.

Brant unveiled his Eagle Scout project, a memorial wall for the Carneys Point Fire Department and Rescue Squad, to community members, digniataries, friends and family as a show of respect for these hometown heroes.

It was a process that took more than a year to complete, said Mayor Wayne Pelura.

“He had to follow all the rules and make sure it was built to code like any other contractor,” said Pelura. “This beautiful wall just and young man is an example of there’s still people out there that care for their community.”

The realization of leaving Boy Scouts Troop 303 became evident as 17 year-old Brant quickly approached adulthood. The climatic age for a scout is 18 years-old and for Brant that means leaving behind a piece of childhood he has known for 11 years.

After earning 21 scout badges, Brant wanted to earn the highest honor for a scout…an Eagle Badge. Future plans include enlisting in the United States Air Force Academy where he will follow in the footsteps of other Eagle Scouts. Roughly 26 percent of all U.S. Air Force soldiers were Eagle Scouts.

“Being in the scouts has taught me how to be a leader and live life versus just going through life and getting by,” said Brant.

What started off as an idea he mulled over with his step-father on a long drive home to dedicate a 2×2 concrete block with a plaque has become a historical milestone for this small town history.

“A little plaque…well, just wasn’t enough to honor these firefighters,” said Brant. “It was a long process…a royal pain in the butt, but it’s here.”

U.S. Dist. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who had met Brant at a National Youth Leadership program in Washington, D.C. stopped by to lend his support and approval.

“This is extraordinary and what makes it more special is I met Josh in Washington and know he’s a young man on a moonlaunch and I believe in him,” said LoBiondo. “I often think in Washington with all the problems we’re facing if we lifted out the scout laws it could eliminate 99 percent of them.”

Brant’s grandfather, Loren Chard, an active member with the township’s fire department since 1964 claims not only will it serve as a long-standing piece of history, but as an educational experience for members of the department as well.

“He’s a special boy,” said Chard trying to hide the tears behind his dark sunglasses. “He’s trying to pave a road for the academy and this has become quite an education for the department, too. We didn’t know how much was involved to earn an Eagle Badge. The scouts is an honorable patriotc program. They’re out leaders.”

Charlie Williams, scout master for Troop 303, said the project acts as a testiment to leadership abilities and devotion for the scout’s community, which he believes Brant has shown through his perseverence on the project.

“He’s a bright and dedicated boy with things like this that brings out good leadership, well that’s the whole concept of an Eagle Scout. “It’s outstanding for a scout to take a project of this size on with that kind of dedication.”

With the 1939 Seagraves Pumper Fire Truck displayed on the lawn of Carneys Point Fire Department and members past and present lining the streets in support, Brant opened with a patriotic ceremony. Tyler Kerswill, 15, bowed in respect as he led the Firefighters Prayer to onlookers.

“Help me to embrace a little child before its too late, or save some older person from the horror of that fate,” said Kerswill quoting a line from the prayer. “The job of a firefighter is one of the most difficult job’s anyone can have. There’s nothing more important than someone who runs into burning building to save someone else’s life before theirs.”

As Brad Boos, 11, and Eddie Tanner, 15, crouched behind the wall with one swift tug of the covering a commemorative wall stood for all to view complete with the departments emblem-Maltese Cross-and bricks engraved with the names of heroes who have risked their lives in the name of safety for decades.

“We’re just glad to be chosen and honored to be here seeing this,” said Tanner. “We’re just happy to help out Josh; he’s always helping everyone else. Josh is someone to look up to.”