One man’s life: shaped by John Wayne, the U.S. Navy, and the BSA

Entrepreneur and Eagle Scout Ken Krogue.
Entrepreneur and Eagle Scout Ken Krogue.

Where do our values come from?

For Ken Krogue, the Eagle Scout and contributor, the idea of values first showed up in Scouts, were further developed at the U.S. Naval Academy, and even made an appearance in a classic John Wayne movie.

In this excellent article, posted today, Krogue takes us on his life’s journey. It all started, as it does for many of us who were Scouts as kids, with a great leader.

Krogue writes: 

The year was 1978.

I was still twelve. Almost thirteen. We had a Scoutmaster named Dave Watson.

We nicknamed him “Swat.”

Why? We heard he had blown his thumb off in an accident with a shotgun and had it sewn back on. When he reached out with his big hand he couldn’t quite grab you, he just swatted you. (I don’t know to this day if that story was true.)

Swat was a big bear of a man. We always hiked behind him in the mountains because he cleared a big path and made it easy.

But he taught me to do hard things.

To hike one more step when I couldn’t. To plan for an activity when my friends were all out playing. To stick by my “buddy” even when he wasn’t the coolest kid to hang out with. To clean up after they went home.

I’ll never forget Swat.

Ken’s values — outlined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law — were implanted at a young age, thanks in part to Swat.

John Wayne

But they’ve showed up elsewhere in his life, too. Even in Hollywood movies like John Wayne’s The Cowboys, in which Wayne recruits boys to help him drive cattle.

“The gruff Wayne takes the boys riding and camping into the wilds, on the high adventure of their lives,” Krogue writes. “He uses some very tough methods at times. They grow up quickly. They do hard things… very hard things.”

Sounds a lot like Scouting. Scouts do hard things, they go on adventures, and they grow up.

In the end, the boys in The Cowboys fulfill the promise they made to Wayne. They live up to their oath. Though Wayne’s methods in the movie aren’t those Scouters would use today, they still taught a valuable lesson that changed Krogue’s way of thinking.

The Naval Academy

After mentioning that the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy both had “inordinate amount of Eagle Scouts” in their ranks when he applied to each, Krogue tells the story of his time at the U.S. Naval Academy.

“It was hard… very hard. I marched a lot,” Krogue writes. And, of course, it was there he took the second great oath of his life. This time it was a full hand and not three fingers, and his vow was to support and defend the Constitution. But it held a familiar weight for the Eagle Scout.

“To uphold our constitution and to protect our freedom,” he writes. “Not a just recommendation or a guideline… An oath.”

All these years later, with five children of his own, Krogue has served as Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Varsity and Venturing leader, and district chairman.

Now he’s trying to pass on the timeless values of Scouting to the next generation — and the one after that, too.

I want my children and newly born grandchildren to learn values…

I want them to hear stories around a campfire.

To feel that tingle that goes up their spine as they come face to face with greatness… and truth. I want leaders who tell stories that teach values, stories of Baden Powell and Scoutmasters minutes.

And know the meaning of trustworthy.

And an oath.

Don’t we all? Take time to read Ken’s entire piece, because I haven’t done it proper justice here. It’s impressive to see a great Eagle Scout and businessman telling Scouting’s story to a non-Scouting audience.

Also by Krogue

In March I blogged about Ken’s article outlining what Eagle Scouts and former college athletes have in common. Another interesting read.

Flickr photo: Some rights reserved by cromely

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.