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European edition, Friday, September 14, 2007

From the trees on the Kellerskopf hill planted in 1957 to the Holy Ark at the Army Airfield Chapel built in 2006, signs of the local Boy Scouts’ long history of good deeds in Wiesbaden, Germany, can be seen everywhere.

Sometimes it’s what you don’t see — thanks to their periodic community cleanups — that shows Troop 107’s effect on the community.

On Sunday, the group will mark its 50th anniversary, a milestone reached by only a few troops in Europe, said Eugene Hickman, education services officer for U.S. Army Garrison Hessen.

“We’ve always had a strong community here in Wiesbaden,” said Hickman, unit commissioner for the Scouts’ Transatlantic Council’s Rheingold District.

Though he is preparing to deploy to Iraq this month, Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, a former Eagle Scout, will give the keynote speech at Sunday’s celebration.

“I’m hoping he imparts to them the importance of Eagle Scouts,” Hickman said.

“It builds character and will help them succeed. I wouldn’t say [Hertling] made general because he was an Eagle Scout, but it laid the foundation.”

Despite deployments that at times have taken away up to half of the troop’s volunteer parent team, the group has remained strong, thanks to others in the community who have taken up the slack while they’re gone.

“We have a lot of soldiers who were Scouts and other parents volunteer when there have been deployments,” said Scoutmaster Jeff Stone, flight operations manager for the Wiesbaden Army Airfield.

“They say that the worst part about deployments for kids is not having their dads, or moms, around,” he said. “(But) in Scouting, you’ve got a lot of other leaders that can be role models and mentors to help fill their shoes for a while.”


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