World War II Vet Makes Eagle Scout at 88

Walter Hart joined the Boy Scouts in 1928. He could have been an Eagle Scout around the time of World War II, but he joined the Navy to fight in the war and forgot to register all of his merit badges. Over the weekend, Hart received a long overdue honor.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Until recently, a kid named Walter Hart had one item on his to-do list. He wanted to become an Eagle Scout. He joined the Boy Scouts. He even earned the right number of merit badges but then he waited, and waited for decades.

NPR's Allison Keyes explains how he finally became an Eagle Scout at the age of 88.

ALLISON KEYES: Walter Hart would have become an Eagle Scout sooner but he joined the Navy to fight World War II. On Saturday, the Boy Scouts made it official.

Mr. WALTER HART (Eagle Scout): Oh, it felt nice. Very good, yeah. I couldn't be any happier.

KEYES: Hart, a beaming gray-haired man, became a Cub Scout when he was just seven years old in 1926 in Malden, Massachusetts. He earned 23 merit badges for things ranging from cooking to physical health. That's two more than you need to be an Eagle Scout.

Mr. HART: I got a big - she used to (unintelligible) when I got merit badges way back in 1931, '32 or '33 up to '36.

KEYES: His daughter, Elizabeth Gatturna, says he never forgot about the scouting rank.

Ms. ELIZABETH GATTURNA (Daughter of Walter Hart): He, you know, went into World War II, volunteered because he had a child and he didn't have to go but he did serve his country. And he always kept thinking about it.

KEYES: Two months ago, Hart discovered his Boy Scout memorabilia in a drawer. And after the Scouts verified his qualification, they awarded Hart his medal. His 65-year-old daughter says she's proud.

Ms. GATTURNA: We had a real good time. My father was the happiest he's been in a long time.

KEYES: Asked if he had advised for today's young men, Hart gave a scout's answer - respect people and be polite.

Allison Keyes, NPR News.

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