The honors and recognitions continue to pour in for the Bay-Lakes Council Scouts and Scouters who came to the aid of their fellow travelers in the moments following the June 27, 2022, train derailment near Mendon, Missouri. These Scouts showed enormous poise and presence of mind and employed all of their Scout training by immediately jumping into action to assist trapped and injured passengers.
Fifteen Scouts and one Scouter have earned the BSA’s Heroism Award, reserved for those who have demonstrated heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save a life at more than minimal personal risk to self.
Five Scouters have also been awarded the BSA’s Honor Medal, reserved for youth members or adult leaders who have demonstrated unusual heroism and skill or resourcefulness in saving or attempting to save a life at considerable risk to self.
The incident occurred when a passenger train operated by Amtrak struck a dump truck that was obstructing the track. Four people were killed and more than 100 were hospitalized.
The Scouts, from Troop 73, chartered to the First English Lutheran Church’s downtown site in Appleton, Wisconsin, and Troop 12, chartered to First English Lutheran Church’s north site, were on their way home after completing a 7-day, 50-mile trek at Philmont Scout Ranch.
The heroes were officially presented with their awards at a ceremony last week at Lambeau Field.
“They put others before themselves and we’re all proud of these boys,” said Matt Schultz, an assistant Scoutmaster from Troop 12 who was on the train. “In that moment of the train crash, it didn’t take long for every single (troop) leader on board to trust our boys.”
In August, the Scouts were recognized by the American Red Cross.
These Scouts had already represented themselves and the BSA splendidly in stories from local and national media. When NBC’s Today correspondent Maggie Vespa told host Craig Melvin that the Scouts stayed at the site after the crash to help injured passengers, Melvin replied, “Of course they did — they’re Scouts.”
They were prepared
The incident, though unquestionably tragic, serves as a reminder of how relevant and valuable the Scouting program is today. There are first aid-related requirements for Scouts BSA ranks from Tenderfoot to First Class, and the First Aid merit badge is one of the badges required to earn the rank of Eagle.
Emergency Preparedness, designed to teach Scouts how to Be Prepared to spring into action if an emergency occurs, is also an Eagle-required merit badge.
Additionally, two members of each crew participating in a trek at Philmont are trained in wilderness first aid, a step up from basic first-aid training that covers the prevention and treatment of injuries and illnesses that one may encounter in a remote environment.
In their own words
The BSA multimedia team caught up with some of the Scouts and adults when they attended summer camp just weeks after the train derailment. Watch the video below to get the story in the words of the heroes who were there.
The video is also available in the BSA’s Brand Center, should you wish to download and show it in front of an audience at a unit meeting, recruiting event or Scouting fundraiser without worrying about having a reliable internet connection.
The honored Scouts and Scouters are:
Julian Boardman, assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 73
John Engel, assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 12
Matthew Poelzer, Scoutmaster, Troop 12
Matt Schultz, assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 12
Craig Thoms, assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 12
Elijah Awe, 16, Troop 73
Isaiah Awe, 14, Troop 73
Jonathan Awe, committee member, Troop 73
Isaac Berken, 15, Troop 73
Harrison Boardman, 17, Troop 73
Alexander Chopra, 14, Troop 73
Andrew Franzene, 14, Troop 73
Henry Gadzik, 16, Troop 73
Mason Geissler, 16, Troop 73
Logan Poelzer, 17, Troop 12
Elijah Schultz, 14, Troop 12
Dean Seaborn, 14, Troop 73
Elijah Skrypczak, 15, Troop 73
Matthew Suprise, 15, Troop 12
Ethan Thoms, 16, Troop 12
Owen Tierney, 15, Troop 73