75 years and counting

  • Published
  • By R.J. Oriez
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

FAIRBORN, Ohio -- Boy Scout Troop 162 marked its 75th anniversary Dec. 13 with a court of honor and dinner in Fairborn.

While the troop is sponsored by, and meets at, Abiding Christ Lutheran Church, it started life in 1946 as the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base troop, chartered by the Wright-Patt Officers Wives Club. Even though the troop is no longer officially affiliated with the Air Force, there is still a strong Wright-Patt connection.

“For 60 years, we were the Wright-Patt troop, and that’s a legacy I’m very proud of,” Scoutmaster Erik Oberg told the gathering of scouts, parents and friends. “I’m proud that, today, we also call ourselves a Fairborn troop. We’d like to think we keep our feet in both worlds, welcoming military-connected and civilian families alike.”

Oberg, whose day job is being the Wright-Patt USO’s operations and center manager, first came in contact with the troop as an 11-year-old when his father was stationed at WPAFB in the early 1980s.

“I was a scout in this troop in 1982 and ’83,” he said. “I remember it being, in that time, a very, very active, very vibrant troop ... headed to summer camp. I have very strong memories of that.”

Oberg returned to Wright-Patt 30 years later as his wife, Elena, then a colonel, assumed the duties of 88th Air Base Wing vice commander.

“When we got back here in 2015, (the troop was) the first group I looked up to say, ‘Hey, is this still going? I’d like my own kids to be involved now,’” he said. “And my oldest son went through the program the last six years and earned his Eagle this past May.”

In its 75 years, more than 115 scouts earned the highest rank of Eagle, leaders said at the celebration. Two of them reached back out to congratulate the troop.

Adam Miller, the troop’s assistant senior patrol leader, whose father is on active duty at Wright-Patterson AFB, read letters from retired astronaut Gregory Johnson and his brother, Gary, both Troop 162 alumni.

“Congratulations to Troop 162 having its 75th anniversary of operations: helping young men, and now women, grow in so many important ways,” Gregory Johnson told the scouts in his letter.

He went on to remember his time in the troop in the late 1970s.

“My brother and I earned our eagle rank together in Troop 162 during that period, and learned leadership, followership, and the importance of good character,” the letter continued. “These lessons and values would serve us for the rest of our lives.”

Oberg highlighted another legacy at the Monday night event.

“Our troop helped in the creation and sponsorship of the Wright Memorial trail,” he said. “It was conceived in 1963 and is now recognized as an official Boy Scouts of America historic trail.”

The trail begins at the interpretive center on Wright Brothers Hill and winds down to Huffman Prairie.

“Troop 162 operates the Wright Memorial trail and awards patches and medals to scout troops and packs who completed it,” Oberg said. “Although records are missing from the earlier years, I am pleased to report that, since 1968, there have been over—that’s more than—17,110 hikers and over 14,000 succeeding patches and over 8,000 medals awarded to troops and packs from 19 states and Canada.”

Isaiah Hunter, 11, is one of the newest and youngest scouts in the troop. His mother works on Wright-Patt, and he seemed a bit more interested in the troop’s future than its past.

“One of my friends asked me about joining scouts and I thought it would be pretty cool,” Hunter said.

So far, he has not been disappointed.

“It’s been pretty fun,” he says. “I’m just super excited for the things that will come.”