Willis “Buddy” Clark Jr. never earned the Eagle Scout award. He was still a Life Scout when Troop 14 of Indianapolis disbanded more than 70 years ago.
But in the years since Buddy joined Scouting in 1942, he has given a lifetime of service to the program he credits with helping him survive the Korean War.
In recognition of his service to Scouting, Buddy was presented a 75-year Scouting service commendation at a special ceremony last month in Angeles City, Philippines.
In those 75 years, Buddy hiked at Philmont Scout Ranch and earned his Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s honor society.
He started troops in six different states and served as Scout chaplain at two world’s fairs.
And now, at age 87, Buddy continues to volunteer with BSA Troop 485 and Pack 485 in the Philippines. He’s still hiking and camping with Scouts young enough to be his great-grandchildren.
A lasting legacy
Buddy joined Troop 14, chartered by Mars Hill Bible Baptist Church in Indianapolis, when he was 12.
As a Marine, Buddy served in the Korean War. He was wounded and thought dead until his finger appeared trying to unzip the body bag. He was quickly rushed into surgery.
Looking back, Buddy credits his Scouting experience with helping him survive the bitter winters in Korea.
After the war, Buddy’s Scouting service continued. As he moved across the country, Buddy formed troops in six states: Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, California and New Mexico. He was the Scout chaplain during the Seattle world’s fair in 1962 and New York World’s Fair in 1964.
Buddy moved to the Philippines a few years ago and signed up as a volunteer with Troop 485. The troop is sponsored by the VFW post there and is composed of children of U.S. veterans living near what was America’s largest overseas military base before U.S. forces left in 1991.
At the ceremony last month, 12-year-old Scout Christon Cangco presented Buddy with his 75-year medal. Christon was joined by Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Jim Collins and Troop 485 Scoutmaster Edgar LaBenne.
What the Scouts are saying
Buddy’s story is an inspiration — a feeling that’s most profoundly felt in his own troop.
Stars and Stripes newspaper offered an excellent report on Buddy’s big day and included comments from some Troop 485 Scouts.
“Most Scouts stop when they turn Eagle,” said David Luay, 15. “It’s kind of cool to see Mr. Buddy be here with us. If Mr. Buddy can stay in Scouts that long, so can we.”
Denis Metherell, 15, was wowed by Buddy’s outdoor skills.
“He can walk a long way,” Denis said. “One time he looked like he was having trouble getting up and I tried to help him, but he didn’t want help.”
Thanks, Buddy, for your service to Scouting and our nation!
Thanks to James Delorey for the blog idea and Edgar LaBenne for the info. Photos by Ericka Frye and used with permission.