Five Vicksburg teens soar as Eagle Scouts

Published 12:30 am Sunday, April 24, 2011

Leadership is the No. 1 lesson five new Eagle Scouts say they’ve learned in Scouting.

“I can use it in the real world,” Morgan Stone said Saturday after he and four other members of Troop 7 of Vicksburg received the highest honor of the Boy Scouts of America in ceremonies at St. Michael Catholic Church.

Morgan, 17, was joined by Nick Mekus, 16, Nathan Fordice, 17, Braddock Oaks, 18, and Mahlon Tomkins, 19.

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“All five of these guys are excellent young men,” said Greg Evans, Troop 7’s Scoutmaster since 2000. “The single most important thing of Scouting to learn is leadership, and they all exemplify that. If there is one thing we want them to get out of Scouting, it is leadership.”

The five made up the largest class of inductees since 1934, Evans said.

“This opportunity is going to afford him many more opportunities later in life,” said Nick’s mother, Patty Mekus, who attended with Nick’s father, Mike Mekus.

Nick is a sophomore at St. Aloysius High School.

Each Scout was presented with a medal and a badge and saluted with a fly-over by two World War II aircraft, a surprise for the Scouts and the audience.

To earn the rank of Eagle, a Scout must earn 21 merit badges and demonstrate Scout spirit and leadership. Though a community service project must be completed before age 18, a required review by Eagle Scouts, much like an exit interview, may be after the Scout is 18.

Badges are awarded for activities and skills that include camping, cycling or hiking, emergency preparedness, first aid, personal fitness and fiscal management.

Mahlon, a student at Hinds Community College, is an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 7. He is the son of Lance and Mitzi Tomkins.

Morgan and Nathan are juniors at St. Al, the respective sons of Rick and Patty Stone and Dan and Ann Claire Fordice. Braddock, a junior at St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, is the son of Larry and Schuyler Oaks.

Troop 7, chartered in 1934 with 10 members, is the oldest continuously chartered troop in Vicksburg, and it has produced 103 Eagle Scouts, 47 assistant Scoutmasters and three Scoutmasters.

About 5 percent of the Scout population nationwide makes it to the Eagle Scout rank each year; there are 259 in Warren County.