The Boy Scouts of America Transatlantic Council recognized 25 boys from across Europe who have reached the highest rank in scouting, the Eagle Scout, with a campfire ceremony on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France June 6, 2017. Among those recognized was Austin Ellwein, a member of Troop 65 in Wiesbaden and the former Senior Patrol Leader. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, proclaimed the day as Austin Ellwein day in commemoration of his achievement.
The Transatlantic Council also recognized several hundred Webelos crossing over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts who have earned their Arrow of Light. In addition to Austin earning Eagle Scout, the Webelos crossing over to Wiesbaden’s Troop 65 who were recognized for their Arrow of Light Award were John Cheney, Ben Young, Malachi Onders, Jackson Rutherford, Jack Van Giezen and JJ Macnamara.
The ceremony takes place every three years on Omaha Beach in front of the Les Braves Monument, which was commissioned in 2004 by the French government to celebrate the 60th anniversary of D-day and honor the Americans who liberated France on June 6, 1944. The ceremony was an opportunity to recognize the sacrifices of American and Allied Soldiers, who fought and died fighting for freedom and peace in 1944. The camporee offered youth and adults a chance to personally reflect and appreciate how the first day of the Invasion of Normandy shaped history.
After the campfire ceremony, there was a Messengers of Peace dinner, which provided an opportunity for Scouts from across the globe to share in the significance of the day. The weekend concluded on Sunday with a closing ceremony at the American Cemetery at Colleville sur Mer with MG Timothy Zadalis, vice commander of US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, as the guest speaker. MG Zadalis achieved the rank of Eagle and spoke to the audience about his experiences.
Austin Ellwein and John (Jac) Cheney were selected as the newest Eagle and one of the newest boy scouts from Troop 65 to lay a wreath at the base of the reflecting pond at the cemetery. After the ceremony, each one of the Boy Scouts received a tulip to place on the grave of a Soldier and reflect upon the sacrifices made by the “Greatest Generation.” The scouts then visited many of the other monuments nearby and the
bunkers, cannons, and the Ranger Monument at Point du Hoc before returning back to Wiesbaden.