Train derailment heroes recognized with BSA lifesaving awards; watch and share this inspiring video

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

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.

Official recognition

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.”

Photo courtesy of the Bay-Lakes Council

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:

Honor Medal

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

Heroism Award

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

About Aaron Derr 226 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.