Boy Scout awarded Eagle Rank 62 years later


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Boy Scouts earn the rank of Eagle Scout every year but it is rare for them to be awarded the achievement decades after earning it, as is the case with Edwin Keller, of Fort Wayne.

Keller joined the Boy Scouts of America when he was eleven years old and was active in the organization through high school. Once he turned 18 in 1958, he traded his scouting uniform for a military one and went off to basic training for the Air National Guard. From there, he was sent to France for the Berlin Crisis before returning home and getting a job with the postal service and fire department. While he never took time to look into it, he sometimes wondered why he never was promoted to the rank of Eagle Scout.

“I had thought sometimes I had enough merit badges, I said I should’ve got Eagle Scout,” said Keller.

What he did not know was that his scoutmaster did submit him for Eagle rank but the application has to be turned in by the scout nominated, and Keller had already left for training before the paperwork arrived.

“Evidently, his mother got the paperwork, put it in an envelope, put it in a file somewhere, and it got forgotten about,” said Anthony Wayne Council Scout Executive John Gliot.

The application was forgotten until his mother passed away. While going through paperwork in his mother’s belongings, Keller’s sister found the letter notifying Keller he was eligible for his Eagle award.

“My sister gave it to me in 2003, so that’s the first time I had seen the letter,” said Keller. “[1958] to 2003, that’s quite a long time. So I said, can probably forget about that.”

Over the years, people kept encouraging him to turn it into the Anthony Wayne Council offices, but he did not see the point given how much time had passed. He changed his mind and decided to see if it would be possible for him to still receive the award in late 2019.

“The young lady said let’s go down to the basement and check the records,” said Keller. “So, we went down into the basement and she said, yep, Troop Five, Franklin School, here it is.”

From there, the council sent the paperwork was sent to the National Boy Scouts Council where a special committee looked at all of the details of Keller’s situation and approved him for a special exception 62 years after earning it. Keller expected he would simply pick the award up from the Fort Wayne Boy Scout offices but the council felt that since only four percent of scouts earn the Eagle rank, Keller deserved the same ceremony and recognition other Eagle Scouts get.

“For the opportunity to take a gentleman who did the work and he deserved it and completed everything to finally get him a award and present it publically, was worth the time and effort we put into it,” said Gliot.

Keller said he is very grateful for the award and it is something he will never forget.

“I’m still amazed that all of this happened,” said Keller.

Gliot said this type of thing happens possibly two to three times per year across the country, but as far as they can tell it has never happened in the Anthony Wayne Council before now.

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