BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Martinsville friends Thomas "Tommy" Seelinger, Michael Benson and Robert Erwin III tripled their achievements when they became Eagle Scouts a few months apart, then celebrated together on April 10 at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor at Blessed Sacrament Church, in Martinsville.
Rep. Leonard Lance attended the ceremony, acknowledging the boys' hard work, dedication and achievements by presenting them with a congratulatory letter and citation.
Bridgewater Mayor Dan Hayes presented each boy with a proclamation acknowledging the boys' perseverance and determination that can make a difference, and the boys and their families on their outstanding achievements as an Eagle Scout in Bridgewater Township.
Troop Scoutmaster Wayne Tatum presented the boys’ awards and flags that have been flown over the Capital for all three boys in honor of the special triumph.
The boys, all seniors at Bridgewater-Raritan High School and members of Troop 46 of Martinsville, traveled parallel — and sometimes identical —paths on their road to the highest rank in scouting.
Benson, the son of Stacy and Randy Benson, joined Cub Scouts during the first grade in Martinsville as a Tiger.
Erwin, the son of Robert and Lily Erwin, and Seelinger, son of Thomas Seelinger and Wei Seelinger, also joined during the first grade as Tigers, and the three boys remained friends from Tiger on up through their rank achievements in both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. From an early visit to the town fire department, to backpacking and canyoneering in Grand Canyon and sailing in the Bahamas at Sea Base, they have enjoyed 12 years of scouting together on journeys both local and global.
Locally, Benson and Seelinger were regulars in Memorial Day parades. All the boys helped fellow scouts with Eagle service projects that included building trails and enhancing area churches, schools, park grounds and historic sites.
They also participated in serving meals at local food shelters. Together, they also attended scout summer camps; backpacked at Philmont in New Mexico, participated in numerous canoe trips; and snorkeled and sailed off the Florida Keys at the Sea Base adventure camp.
Each of the boys decided to give back to Somerset County through their Eagle projects. Benson's Eagle Scout project consisted of collecting utility pole coordinates and additional data located along the eastern end of Washington Valley Road - the information collected will help Bridgewater Township report street light outages and better map out those segments of Bridgewater’s infrastructure for future use.
Seelinger's Eagle Scout project consisted of restoring a children's park in Somerville that pays tribute to children that died in a house fire in 1977. Through the Eagle project, he installed a 10 x 20 ft patio as well as a 5 x 15 ft walkway; refurbished and replaced benches; repainted a faded sculpture; and planted rose bushes at the children’s park.
Erwin’s Eagle project was restoring a colonial cemetery in Martinsville. Dead trees were removed to protect the headstones. Lower branches were trimmed from trees. Missing farm chains were replaced and existing farm chains were reattached to stone posts that circle the cemetery. Gravestones were cleaned and fading inscriptions were documented. A 13-star flag was raised and a solar light was installed to illuminate the flag.
The boys plan to attend college in the fall and all look forwarding to continuing to give back to their community and to remain friends throughout their lives.