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US Marine Receives BSA Honor Medal

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Something tells me there aren't too many of these getting awarded, so I thought I would share. This came to one of our own, in my own backyard.





Courage under fire

Marine, scout leader rewarded for lifesaving

Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler

Story Identification #: 2004129193713

Story by Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier




CAMP MCTUREOUS, OKINAWA, Japan -- (Nov. 27, 2004) -- The Boy Scouts of America presented the Honor Medal to Maj. Richard G. Steele Nov. 27 for saving the lives of his former neighbors who were in a serious house fire last year.


Steeles neighbor in Burke, Va., alerted him at 11 p.m. on June 2, 2003, that there was a fire at a nearby house.


Steele, whos currently an adult leader with Pack 110 of the Far East Council of the BSA, immediately grabbed his 10-pound, chemical fire extinguisher while his wife, Margaret, called the local fire department, according to Steele. When he arrived at the burning home, the residents were still inside eating dinner, unaware of the fire.


Before running into the house, I felt a sense of urgency take over, said Steele, the logistics and support officer for the 3rd Marine Division. I didnt think about the danger I was putting myself in. The people inside were in trouble, and I just responded.


Steele said he searched the house, evacuating one adult and three children who were still inside. He then cut off the power to the main circuit breaker because he thought it could have been an electrical fire. At that time, the occupants, who were immigrants and spoke very little English, fled the scene.


Our neighborhood (was) blessed to have him as a neighbor, said Eddie Gunn, Steeles neighbor in Burke. We were all really thankful for his quick actions.


A lot of work was done behind the scenes to ensure Steele received the Honor Medal, which is as important to the BSA as the Silver Star Medal is to the military, according to wife Margaret.


Eyewitness statements and police reports were sent to the National Capital Area Council committee in Bethesda, Md., so it could be determined whether or not Steele would receive this medal, according to Margaret.


The NCAC committee is responsible for ensuring the accomplishment of the BSA mission, which is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime.


Once the committee granted approval, the Great Okinawa District of the Far East Council of the BSA awarded Steele with the medal here, according to Margaret.


(Steele) had no idea he was going to be receiving the award, said Alan Bergstrom, member of the Great Okinawa District of the Far East Council of the BSA. We decided to keep the medal a surprise for him.


Steele was a Cub Scout den leader at the time of the fire. More than a year and a half later, as a Boy Scout adult leader, Steele is proud to know the Marine Corps played a part in helping him get through the incident, according to his wife.


His Boy Scout and Marine Corps training went hand in hand during the fire, Margaret said. I was scared when he ran out of the house because when I married him, I knew he was the kind of man who would run through fire to save another person.

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Trevorum writes:Thanks for sharing this with us. One thing I did not know was that BSA heroism medals are awarded not by National, but by the National Capital Area Council (NCAC) in Washington, DC The reason NCAC approved the medal is because that was his Council when he performed his act of bravery. I doubt if NCAC approves applications from other Councils, but I could be mistaken.Fred Goodwin

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  • 2 months later...

Just a quick note to congratulate Maj Steele for his Honor Medal. In answer to the comments/questions regarding the awarding of the medal, the National Capital Area Council only recommends awarding of the Medal based on their investigation of the circumstances, then forwards that information on to the National Court of Honor at BSA National Headquarters for final review and approval. Many recommendations are downgraded to either the Heroism Award or Medal of Merit. In this case the Medal was approved and Maj. Steele is to be congratulated for this very high Honor. Similar to that of Awarding the Medal of Honor by the military. On average about 20 to 25 Honor Medals (including those with crossed palms) are awarded each year out of about 5,000,000 eligible members of the BSA. I submit this information to you as a prior Honor Medal recepient and current member of the National Capital Area Council. Yours In Scouting! RJA

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