ROXBURY, NJ – A Boy Scout from Succasunna, who conducted videotaped interviews of 10 local veterans as part of his Eagle Scout project, told township officials his goal is to have the warriors’ stories “preserved forever.”
The Scout, Justin Berge, of Boy Scout Troop 159 in Succasunna, told the Roxbury Mayor and Council on Tuesday that he is submitting the interview tapes to the U.S. Library of Congress Veteran’s History Project where they will be available online.
Berge also gathered some items from those he interviewed and used them to create a memorial in a glass case inside Roxbury Town Hall.
“You often see Eagle projects do physical things, like they build things,” Berge said. “But I wanted to bring Scouting into the 21st century and try something new.”
Noting he really enjoys history and does a lot of reading, Berge said he learned about the Veteran’s History Project while he was “researching around” and “thought it would be very good for a project.”
With help from some fellow Scouts, Berge used the Roxbury Public Library to conduct and film the 30-minute-long interviews of the veterans. The 10 veterans interviewed, of which six are members of Kenvil VFW Post 2833, were: John Lehnert, Martin Feeney, Steve Niblett, Andrew Honeycheck, Robert Kluska, Richard Collari, Chris Gates, Walter Titus, Jeff McDonald and Chester Kochan.
“My grandfather proudly served in World War 2 and was recently awarded his war decorations posthumously,” Berge said. “I never got to meet him first-hand or hear his stories directly, but the opportunity to honor and explore the stories of other veterans deeply moved me, which is why I chose this project.”
Berge, a Roxbury High School student, said he found it vital to record the veterans’ stories “and make them part of this nationwide operation” being compiled by the Library of Congress.
“I wanted to make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations can hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war,” said the Scout. “It is important that these stories are documented before they are lost to history forever.”
Berge said he and his helpers “were captivated by the real accounts” they heard about military service. “The 10 veterans represent a diversity of ages, wars and beliefs, but the message of their stories is clear: All of these veterans have made immense sacrifices and their stories deserve to be preserved forever.”
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