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Scouting Serves As Stepping Stone
by USMC Cpl. Jonathan Wright - January 26, 2013

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CAMP FOSTER, Japan (1/17/2013) - The path to reach adulthood can be an arduous, grueling battle or a mundane, gradual transition. Somewhere between those two extremes lies a route that, if chosen, propels young men toward a life of leadership and honor – the life of a Boy Scout.

Gabriel Vasquez recites the Boy Scout oath with members of his troop during the Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony Jan. 12, 2013 at the Butler Officers’ Club on Camp Foster, Japan. Photo by USMC Cpl. Jonathan Wright
Gabriel Vasquez recites the Boy Scout oath with members of his troop during the Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony Jan. 12, 2013 at the Butler Officers' Club on Camp Foster, Japan. Photo by USMC Cpl. Jonathan Wright

The Boy Scouts of America's Japan District, Far East Council, recently lauded the accomplishments of one of their young members, bestowing on him the highest rank attainable in the organization Jan. 12 during a ceremony in front of family, friends and fellow scouts at the Butler Officers' Club on Camp Foster.

Gabriel Vasquez, a Boy Scout with Troop 112 and Lester Middle School student, earned the rank of Eagle Scout for his years of service and work on Okinawa.

In his five years with the Boy Scouts, Vasquez has held various leadership billets, won multiple awards, and earned more than 35 merit badges.

For scouts to be considered for promotion to the rank of Eagle Scout, they must undertake a project that selflessly benefits their local community. Vasquez' project, executed July 29, was the renovation of the Tomari International Cemetery in Naha, first established by U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 to bury crew members who fell ill during his voyage across the Pacific to Japan.

Vasquez organized the service project and with the help of nearly 50 volunteers, consisting of Troop 112 and American Legion Post 28 members, and sailors, airmen and Marines, cut overgrown grass, repaired a storage shed, and repainted veterans' memorials at the cemetery.

By the end of the day, the group's efforts drastically improved the cemetery's appearance, and Vasquez' devotion to helping his community had advanced him on his path to the rank of Eagle Scout.

“The Boy Scouts open young men's eyes to new opportunities and helps them hone leadership and life skills that will stay with them forever, acting as a stepping stone into adulthood,” said Vasquez. “I am the person I am today because of scouting.”

Recent Boy Scouts of America statistics indicate that only three out of every 100 Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts.

Many scouts choose to enter the military later in life, continuing to live by the parallel values of service and aiding others. The Marine Corps recognizes the value of scouting experience and promotes Eagle Scouts to the rank of private first class upon completion of recruit training. Vasquez is now one of the select few eligible for the privilege.

“What sets Gabriel apart from the rest? I believe it's his clarity of understanding and knowing himself and what he stands for,” said M. Marti, vice principal of Lester Middle School. “Most young people spend their childhood and early adult years figuring out who they are. Gabriel doesn't have to. He possesses an uncanny ability to see beyond himself to the needs of others.”

As Vasquez lit the ceremonial candles and received his Eagle Scout medal, he solidified his attributes as a young man able to lead and inspire those around him. The past five years have prepared him to step into adulthood to grow further, both as a leader and as an individual.

By USMC Cpl. Jonathan Wright
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2013

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