Scouts ID veterans' graves

Tribune Staff • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:40 PM

One of his grandfathers served in Vietnam. Plus, every year since he was in preschool, Noah — currently completing ninth grade at Spring Lake High School — has helped Troop 14 put American flags on the graves of veterans in Spring Lake Township Cemetery prior to Memorial Day weekend.

Last year, he saw something that upset him.

"One of the graves said the person was killed in action, but the grave had no flag holder," Noah said. "That really bothered me."

After making a few inquiries, Noah learned that Spring Lake Township couldn't provide information on the number of veterans in the cemetery. While township personnel said there are approximately 600 veterans buried in the cemetery, the scout troop found there are not enough flags provided to fill all the markers each year.

"That is when I decided to make this my Eagle Scout project," Noah said. "I wanted to be sure that every veteran is honored."

In organizing his project, Noah, the son of Brian and Laura Molyneux, decided to divide the cemetery into zones and have people pair up to walk each zone, row by row, looking at both sides of every gravestone for veteran information. Every veteran was recorded by name, row and zone.

"That way, we know where to find them in the future," Noah said. "Plus, when we put flags out, we know who to look for, so we don't miss anyone."

In addition, the names were recorded in a spreadsheet and cross-referenced against a record book that the cemetery kept for a period of time.

The time spent identifying graves, inputting the data, marking and placing flags on the graves consumed more than 160 hours of work. Noah's Eagle Scout project discovered more than 1,000 veteran graves in the cemetery, and 53 were previously unmarked.

Earlier this week, a crew of 49 scouts and family members descended on the cemetery, separating into groups and armed with zone maps and veterans' names provided by Noah. They systematically walked each area to ensure that no veteran is forgotten this Memorial Day.

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