Community Life

Troop 3 Caldwell Boy Scouts Learn of Service and Sacrifice through Trips to Washington, D.C. and the USS Cole

Credits: Bill Styskal


CALDWELL, NJ - For the past month, scouts from Caldwell’s Boy Scout Troop 3 have been immersed in a learning experience focused on honoring the sacrifices that members of the the US Armed Forces have made for our country. From April 25-27, the scouts traveled to Washington D.C. and this past weekend the troop spent the day visiting the USS Cole in New York City. The young men were led on these expeditions by Roseland residents, Scoutmaster Jerry Groome and Assistant Scoutmaster Bill Styskal.

“We do our best to instill a sense of American pride into our young men, along with an appreciation for the sacrifices people have made for our country,” Styskal commented. “Our troop has been driven to provide the very best for our young men. We want to educate them on the foundation of our country and instill in them a sense of pride in the United States of America.”

Washington, DC Weekend
Fort McHenry

During the last weekend of April, 31 scouts from Troop 3 traveled to America’s capitol to visit the historic areas and national monuments throughout the Washington D.C. region. Along with their scoutmasters, the young men were joined by adults Frank Alexander, Chris Geiger, Mike Jebwabnick, Ray Lachenauer, Pete Levine, Tom Osborne, Bill Styskal and Eagle Scout Michael Marcus

The troop began their weekend with a tour of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, where national park rangers taught the young men about the role the fort played during the War of 1812 when soldiers defended Baltimore Harbor against a British navy assault. The scouts were interested to learn how Francis Scott Key wrote the words to what became our national anthem after he witnessed an American flag still flying on the morning after the British attack.
Fort McHenry FLAG.jpg
Credit: Bill Styskal

The young men were educated on military life in the early nineteenth century and were given instructions on how to load, position and fire a 6000 and 8000 pound cannon.
Credit: Bill Styskal

While touring the theatre at Fort McHenry, the troop was surprised to come upon a flag made in 1989 at the Annin Flag Company of Roseland.
FLAG .jpg
Credit: Bill Styskal 

A title card beneath the flag reads:

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American Flag
Roseland, NJ, 1989
Annin and Co.
This 15-star flag was taken into space aboard the shuttle Atlantis in 1989 to mark the 175th Anniversary of “The Star Spangled Banner.” It is a reminder of the 15-star flag flown at Fort McHenry in 1814 that inspired the National Anthem.

Camp Snyder
Later that evening, the troop camped at their home base for the weekend, Camp Snyder, a boy scout camp in Haymarket, VA. The troop stayed together in a cabin. 
Credit: Bill Styskal

Arlington National Cemetery
The next morning, Troop 3 visited Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia. Four members of the troop were given the high honor of being selected to place a wreath at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier:

  • Eagle Scout Matthew Lachenauer, 17, of Roseland
  • Life Scout Billy Styskal, 14, of Roseland
  • Life Scout Michael Geiger, 14, of Roseland
  • Life Scout Zach Zerance, 14, of Roseland 

arlington 3.jpg
Caldwell’s Boy Scout Troop 3 scouts at the wreath laying service at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.
From left, front: Billy Styskal and Matthew Lachenauer 
From left, rear:  Michael Geiger and Zach Zerance
Credit: Bill Styskal

The four scouts were instructed on how to perform the ceremony first by Styskal and then by a tomb guard. 
Troop 3 Caldwell - Wreath Ceremony at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (2014)
Caldwell’s Boy Scout Troop 3
From left, front: Billy Styskal and Matthew Lachenauer 
From left, rear:  Michael Geiger and Zach Zerance
Credit: Chris Gieger

The revered tomb contains the remains of an unidentified American soldier from World War I and is marked with the words “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” Close by are the crypts of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War unknown soldiers.
arlington 1.jpg
Credit: Bill Styskal

The Troop were impacted by the rolling fields of burial markers and the sacrifices those soldiers made while preserving America’s freedoms. They concluded their visit at the site of the eternal flame by the grave site of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
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Credit: Bill Styskal

In the afternoon, the young men entered the nation’s capitol and had lunch at historic Union Station, still one of the country’s busiest train terminals and the site of troop mobilization during World Wars I and II.

The Duck Boat
After lunch, the troop had an entertaining and educational afternoon on the amphibious tour vehicle called the "Duck Boat."
duck 1.jpg
Credit: Bill Styskal

The scouts learned that their boat was a restored, authentic unit which was first used by soldiers during World War II to transport supplies and troops over land and water and was also able to cross beaches, including Normandy on D-Day. The tour began with the troops viewing historic DC sites as they rode past the well known monuments along Pennsylvania Avenue including the US Capitol Building, the FBI Headquarters, the US Mint, the Washington Monument and the White House. Throughout the ninety minute tour, the guide’s narration was highlighted at times with original sound recordings from World War II. Once the truck reached the Potomac River, it transformed into a boat and glided into the water, traveling on to Gravelly Point Park in Arlington, VA. where the airplanes from Reagan National Airport soared overhead.

Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport
The following day, the Scouts were instructed about the history of flight when they traveled to Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, VA and toured the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The scouts were able to view historical pieces which are too large to be housed on the Mall in DC including the Enola Gay, the Gemini VII space capsule and the Space Shuttle Discovery.

The young men were even able to get a private lesson on air traffic control from a mock Air Traffic Control tower that was imaged after one at Newark International Airport.
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Credit: Bill Styskal

The young men had a interesting experience practicing on a flight simulator at the center.
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Credit: Bill Styskal

The scouts made their way home Sunday evening. The entire weekend’s transportation, including the use of four passenger vans, fuel and tolls, was all made possible by a generous donation from a private benefactor. “We are so grateful for this donation,” commented Styskal. “This allowed the trip to be so much more affordable to our scouts.”

Eagle Scouts
In the past eight years, Troop 3 has promoted over 23 scouts to the rank of Eagle Scout. “This year we could have the potential of another seven!” Styskal enthused. “I love promoting scouting and I am especially proud of our troop and all of their accomplishments. We have extraordinary young men that truly exemplify the meaning of scouting. So much hard work and dedication goes into this and I could not be more proud."

There are several scouts in the troop that are aspiring to enter the military; some have hopes of going to the Air Force and West Point military academies. “These kids are so dedicated they may just do it,” Styskal commented.

USS Cole
On Saturday, Troop 3 continued their education of military history by visiting the US Navy Guided-Missile Destroyer, the USS Cole, which is moored in New York Harbor for Fleet Week 2014. On Saturday’s trip, the young men were joined by cub scouts from Roseland Pack 801.
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Credit: Bill Styskal 

On board the ship, the scouts learned how the ship survived an al-Qaeda suicide bombing attack which killed 17 sailors and injured 39 on Oct. 12, 2000. The attack occurred while the ship was harbored in Aden, Yemen and the the bombing blew out a 60-foot hole in its side.

A private tour was arranged by Den Leader Heidi Levine, of Roseland, whose brother, Petty Officer 2nd Class, Mark Spinney, is stationed aboard the ship. STG2 Spinney is one the USS Cole's sonar operators and during the tour he gave the scouts a lesson about the flight deck.cole 6.jpg
Petty Officer 2nd Class, Mark Spinney
Credit: Bill Styskal

STG2 Spinney accompanied the scouts for the entire tour of the USS Cole. The troop was given a glimpse into the life of an active duty US Sailor while being able to view most of the equipment used onboard the ship.
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Credit: Bill Styskal
Heidi Levine has also been selected for the rare opportunity to participate in the Tiger Cruise on Tuesday when the ship returns to its home port in Norfolk, VAuss cole 2.jpg
Credit: Bill Styskal  

Troop 3
Troop 3, Caldwell, is an official Boy Scouts of America (BSA) troop under the Northern New Jersey Council. It was established in 1917 and currently holds its meeting at the Caldwell United Methodist Church. Most of the scouts are from Roseland, but members are welcomed from throughout the West Essex area. Any boys, from age 11 to age 18, who are interested in joining Troop 3 should contact Assistant Scoutmaster Bill Styskal at

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