By Dean Serwin , Contributor
On Sunday, August 15, 2021, Troop 342 (formerly 366) held an extra special Eagle Scout Court of Honor at South Pasadena’s War Memorial Building. Troop 342/366 has had many Courts of Honor over its 95 years, even a few at the WMB. What made this event so unique was that the Troop honored eight (8) young men who had earned the Eagle rank over the past unusual year (two others had already left for college and will be honored in December) — more at once than at any one time in its long history.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is challenge enough, nationally only about 8% of all scouts have earned the rank. To do it with the added challenges brought by the past year, including quarantines — making the usual group projects a maze of regulations and extra planning so no family unit worked at the same time as any other — only shows the dedication and drive of these young men.
While a crowd of about 100 fully-masked family, friends, fellow scouts and other honored guests looked on with pride; Simon Pierce, Michael Lee, Liam Serwin, Sam Schwartz, William Ford, River Muench, Esteban Romero and Sean Wu were honored with Scouting’s highest award.
As these young men now move on to the next stage of their lives in college, seven of them have just enjoyed the past 7 years together in the troop (with one scout having transferred in only a few months before the lockdown). In fact several have been together since first-grade as Cub Scouts at Monterey Hills Elementary.
In order to earn this award, a Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges focusing on civic duty, physical fitness, personal management, first aid, and other life skills. Additionally, each provided at least sixteen months of leadership positions within the Troop and elsewhere. They then completed an Eagle Service Project to benefit the community. And, finally, each acquitted themselves admirably during a 2-hour Board of Review (think Oral Exams for a Ph.D) during which a group of half a dozen adult leaders examined each scout’s experiences during scouting and what they personally gained from it.
These three Scouts can be proud of their various Service Projects. Simon Pierce built picnic tables for Oneonta Congregational Church, with his project interrupted by the initial lockdown in March 2020;
Michael Lee remodeled and refurbished the Arroyo Vista School emergency supply storage container; Liam Serwin created and distributed 200 15-item Covid Dignity/Toiletry/Emergency Kits to the homeless through Midnight Mission in DTLA; Sam Schwartz created 50 face shields for Optimist youth shelter; William Ford made 100 blankets for Project Linus; River Muench created a bird garden/sanctuary for a local (Pasadena) School & the Audubon Society; Esteban Romero created 50 cloth masks for the homeless ministry of Divine Savior Roman Catholic Church; and Sean Wu cleared brush & landscaped space at Oneonta Congregational Church to create devotional rest area.
The ceremony was overseen by Master of Ceremonies and former Assistant Scoutmaster William Burrows, who returned to the Troop for this event. Reverend Lincoln Skinner of Oneonta Congregational Church provided the invocation. Former Scoutmaster Greg Thompson and current Assistant Scoutmaster Chris English shared information about the meaning and requirements of the award. Scoutmaster Ken Borgerding and Senior Patrol Leader CaiChun “Lim” Lin presented the new Eagle Scouts with their Eagle Awards and charged them to uphold the principals of scouting throughout their lives.
About a dozen Eagle Scouts in the audience were recognized and joined the new Eagles in the “Eagle’s Nest” during the ceremony. Rose Bowl District Assistant Advancement Commissioner Brian Snaer (who had chaired each Eagle Scout’s Board of Review), and BSA National Service Territory Membership Lead and Troop 342 Unit Commissioner, Travis J. Williams, Ph.D shared some memories and inspirational thoughts, and retiring Committee Chair Dean Serwin honored several outgoing adult leaders. Finally, the new Eagles Scouts were each presented with a certificate of recognition by South Pasadena Mayor, Diana Mahmud.
Immediately following the ceremony, the newly minted Eagle Scouts assisted Scoutmaster Borgerding in presenting Mayor Mahmud with a new flag for the War Memorial Building to replace its severely worn-out one. The new flag was then raised with honor by the Eagles, and the old one will be properly retired by Troop 342 at a solemn ceremony at Garfield Park in the coming months.
And like any good event honoring a job well done, at the end everyone enjoyed cupcakes and light refreshments in front of the WMB.
The Eight New Troop 342 Eagles Scouts are:
Simon Pierce (Eagle Earned 7/9/2020)
Michael Lee (Eagle Earned 10/8/2020)
Liam Serwin (Eagle Earned 11/19/2020)
Sam Schwartz (Eagle Earned 3/4/2021)
William Ford (Eagle Earned 3/11/2021)
River Muench (Eagle Earned 3/16/2021)
Esteban Romero (Eagle Earned 4/27/2021)
Sean Wu (Eagle Earned 8/4/2021)