SPARTA, NJ — One project was to repair and improve the monument in front of Sparta VFW, the other project was to create a patio area around the flagpole on the plaza in front of town hall. Two young men earned their Eagle rank, recognized in a court of honor at the Mohawk House last week.

The garden room was filled with family, friends and fellow scouts as Ian Thomson and John “Jack” Whilesmith were honored. 

Mike Ilardi served as Master of Ceremony for the afternoon. Rev. Dr. Patrick Sileo gave the invocation and the program began. Jack’s father John shared that one in four boys in the United State will be scouts but of the leaders in the nation in business, religion and politics, three out of four were scouts.

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Scout Master Don Fowler and leader Mike Stenderowicz shared stories about the Thomson and Whilesmith. He said it took Whilesmith only three years to get from the first rank of Scout all the way to Life. Whilesmith earned 23 merit badge, spent 70 nights camping, earned National Outdoor Camping gold, went to Sea Base.

“Nuclear Science might have been the toughest merit badge,” Whilesmith said.

A number of stories related by the leaders about Whilesmith had to do with inclement weather on outdoor adventures. 

“Jack’s skills are second to none,” Stenderowicz said. “His sled always earned first place in the Klondike for fire building skills, knots lashing … The troop would not have been the same without Jack.” 

Whilesmith has become a registered assistant scout master so he will continue to work with the troop until he leaves for college next fall.

Fowler and Stendeowicz next spoke about Thomson. The scout had earned the Bronze and Gold Palm, Order of the Arrow with and Ordeal Weekend — scouting honor society, Klondike Sled leader, bronze level winner. Thomson served as webmaster, patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader and earned his Interpreter stripe “the first one in the troop,” according to Fowler. 

Thomson also earned NRA marksmanship, National Outdoor Camping gold with 90 nights of camping. He planned, all on his own, the scouts’ trip to Boston where they walked the Freedom Trail.

“We have enjoyed his smile and his skills,” Fowler said. Thomson is applying to the United States Naval Academy, Stenderowicz said.

David Thomson gave the Eagle Scout Charge. He told the boys, “Dedicate your hearts and hands to the common good … You are marked and people will expect more from you, service and honor, because you became an Eagle Scout … Our country has a great past but the future is bright.”

Each of the scouts presented mentor pins to three people who have had an impact on their lives and their pursuit of the Eagle rank.

Whilesmith went first. He thanked Township Manager Bill Close and Councilman Jerry Murphy, VFW Commander Pete Litchfield and people at Sparta Block and Braen Stone for their help with his project. He honored:

  • Scoutmaster Fowler – “He taught me a lot and has been a friend.”
  • David Thompson — “He has been a huge inspiration …”
  • Andrew Lopez — “Someone who got me and helped me …”

Thomson followed. He also thanked Close, Murphy and Township Engineer Eric Powell for their help with his project. He then honored:

  • Scoutmaster Fowler — “I appreciate your patience …”
  • Mr. Patten the scoutmaster of his first troop — “who helped me discover my love of history …”
  • His dad — “For all of his help with my Eagle project.”

Murphy told the boys there were proclamations for them at town hall. Marty Schweighardt made a presentation from the Sparta VFW. “I always enjoy coming to these ceremonies,” Schweighardt said.

Robert Glesias, Sussex County Commander and Anthony Gallopo Newton Post 86 Commander of the American Legion presented plaques to the boys. “It’s a pleasure and a great honor to be here,” Gelsias said.

Congratulatory letters from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, himself an Eagle Scout and Senator Oroho were shared with the party. 

Both boys gave their mothers and fathers pins for the role in getting the boys to the Eagle rank.