Uncovering grave sites to honor fallen veterans - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

Uncovering grave sites to honor fallen veterans

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Steven Thomas and his partner Austin Foshe sweep the cemetery for fallen veterans Steven Thomas and his partner Austin Foshe sweep the cemetery for fallen veterans

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A teenager from our area is literally uncovering grave sites to earn his eagle scout badge and honor fallen veterans at the same time. 

Steven Thomas is a 17 year old high school senior from Southport.  He comes from a military family and has always dreamt of serving his country.  He's been a member of the boy scouts since he was 5 years old and served as a leader for 4 years in the JROTC program at South Brunswick High School.   Both his grandfather and his great grandfather served in the US Army.  Coming from a long line military war veterans, Thomas always knew his path in life. 

"My great grandfather passed away and I didn't even know he was in the military for the longest time," said Thomas.  "I never asked him.  When I was at his funeral and I saw the grave marker, I was shocked that I never knew that about him.  That's what drove me to do this because I never heard all his good stories."

Now, Thomas has his sights set on his latest goal - to become an Eagle Scout before he goes off to military college in the fall.  Before can get his eagle scout badge, he must prove himself by leading a project that benefits his community.  Given his family's military history, he decided to do something to honor fallen veterans from our area who fought for America in the line of battle.  Thomas got an idea from one of his Eagle Scout mentors and ran with it.   He recently received permission from the Southport Board of Alderman to search through Northwood Cemetery in Southport to identify fallen service member's graves marking each one with an American flag.  Thomas wants to make sure every veteran buried in this cemetery is remembered. 

"I wanted to do something more important than building a bench or pretending to do something or building a garden," said Thomas.  "Not that those are bad things, but I feel like this is something that truly provides a service to the community."

Its a long and strenuous process, searching the cemetery along with his second in command, Austin Foshe.  At times, they find themselves literally uncovering graves that are covered in leaves and dirt.  Thomas doesn't look at it as hard work but rather a way to honor his childhood heroes.  Thomas hopes this project will not only help him earn his Eagle Scout badge, he wants to inspire others to remember our fallen veterans and take time to honor them. 

"I hope this encourages others to go to other cemeteries and do the same thing I did," said Thomas.

After he identifies every former veteran in the entire cemetery, he plans to build a guide to be placed at the front of the cemetery to help others find and honor former service members.

Thomas hopes to complete the project by June 1st.  He plans to go to Norwich University in the fall, a military school, to continue his dream of serving his country.

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