Derry scout soars with Eagle project

JULIE HUSS/Staff photoGavin Holloway, a member of Derry Boy Scout Troop 402, stands with VFW Post 1617 Commander Leonard Perkins at the post home in Derry. Gavin is doing a project to earn his Eagle Scout award and is chronicling all the veterans buried in historic Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry.

DERRY — A Derry Boy Scout is taking on a project to honor area veterans and their final resting place.

Gavin Holloway, 17, a member of Boy Scout Troop 402, is working toward his Eagle Scout honor and has chosen a project that will identify and chronicle all veterans buried at the historic Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry.

The Eagle is the highest honor a Boy Scout can earn and involves planning and developing a community project that is brought before a Scout board for approval.

Gavin decided he wanted to do a project that honored veterans and compile information and photographs of graves at Forest Hill.

The project also involves cleaning some of the more hidden, flat stones to discover names of veterans and dates of service.

"We took pictures of all the stones to put in a book," he said, adding several books of photos and information will be put together and placed in several locations in town including the municipal center, town libraries and the VFW post home on Railroad Avenue.

Gavin said there are about 800 stones found and now part of the project.

Veterans' names and photos will also be placed in alphabetical order, the Scout said, with name, birth date, rank, branch of service and what war the veteran served in.

For Gavin, a Scout since first grade, it was an important project.

"Everyone I know as a veteran, and some veterans never get seen," he said.

Gavin has participated in efforts to recognize veterans by placing hundreds of flags on their graves every year. The project also included meticulous work to uncover those hidden flat stones that are becoming encroached upon by grass and moss.

It's a history lesson in itself, the Scout added, saying some of the oldest veterans date back to the earliest of wars.

"He's a history buff," Gavin's mother Melanie said. "Every year when he was putting flags out, he would say there should be a list to remember them."

Gavin held a fundraiser recently at the VFW to raise money to support local veterans and help pay for flags in the future for veterans' graves at Forest Hill.

VFW Post Commander Leonard Perkins said Gavin's project was a good one.

"We've been trying to get a Scout to take on the project," he said.

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