BY KIM LUTTRELL
This past Sunday, John O’Brien of Danville culminated his years of participation in scouting by receiving its highest honor when he became an Eagle Scout.
The honor was bestowed during an Eagle Scout Court of Honor at Camp Robert Drake between Catlin and Oakwood.
John O’Brien said he joined scouting in third grade.
"Scouting has always been fun for me," John said. "The work involved in obtaining my merit badges has always been rewarding."
John is the son of Mike O’Brien and Anne Sacheli of Danville.
While the achievement of obtaining the Eagle Scout rank is a rarity, with only some 4 percent of boys entering scouting ever achieve the rank , O’Brien’s Court of Honor was especially memorable with his grandfather, Louis O’Brien and his father, Mike O’Brien both participating in the ceremony.
The reason the senior O’Briens were participating is that both also are Eagle Scouts.
Louis O’Brien, who is 85, said he became an Eagle Scout in 1941.
"I remember when I was a kid there were two families that lived across the street," Louis recalled. "Each Saturday morning a car would stop in front of their houses and the boys would run out with their uniforms on and off they would go to Scout meetings.
"I wanted to be a part of that," he said.
Louis O’Brien said actually there have been four generations of the O’Brien family involved in scouting.
"My father received a Silver Beaver award for keeping our council going during World War II," Louis said.
Mike O’Brien, who is 56, became an Eagle Scout in 1972.
"It was just a natural thing for me to become a Scout," said Mike. "I loved being outdoors and everything associated with it."
Mike recalls growing up near the old Marine Corps and Naval Reserve Training Center on Wilkin Road.
"It was just fascinating watching those guys in their uniforms go out for their training," Mike said.
He said it also helped that a lot of his friends also were involved in scouting.
"Our sponsor was St. Paul’s Catholic Church, and there were a large number of boys involved in scouting there," he said.
One of the requirements for obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout is completing a community service project. That requirement was not in place when Louis O’Brien became an Eagle Scout but it was when Mike O’Brien did.
"My service project was planting trees in what is now Kennekuk County Park," Mike said.
He recalls he and two others spent five cold Saturdays in February planting trees along what would be the roads that run through Kennekuk.
John O’Brien’s community service project was the construction of a wooden boardwalk in Winterview Park.
John constructed the boardwalk using 500 deck boards donated by Lowe’s and six utility poles provided by the city. He was assisted by neighboring scout troops that needed to perform service hours also. This project was completed last September.
John said his most memorable scout experience was spent during the summer of 2011 when he spent two weeks hiking in the northern New Mexico wilderness at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
John, who is a senior at Schlarman Academy, plans to continue his work as a member of the Camp Robert Drake Scout Camp staff this summer, a position has held since 2009.
John’s future plans include enlisting in the Marine Corps for four years and to continue his education after completing his military service.
According Tim Carter, scoutmaster of Troop 365, John is well-suited for the Marine Corps and for whatever else he chooses to do in life.
"John is a definite go-getter, he loves to be active and has a very strong moral character," Carter said.
Carter went on to explain the advantages of being an Eagle Scout last all through the recipients’ lives.
"When John enters the Marine Corps, he will be automatically advanced one rank above all other new recruits by simply being an Eagle Scout," Carter said. "The military services know that an Eagle Scout already has more skills than the average recruit as well as being of the strongest and soundest character.
"Later in life, when John applies for any job, his achievement of being an Eagle Scout stands out on a resume and would give him a definite advantage over a non-Eagle Scout applicant," Carter said.
When John O’Brien became an Eagle Scout this year, he became the third generation of O’Brien’s to achieve the rank, spanning nearly 72 years.