Consider it one small step toward confirming something we’ve known all along — and one giant leap toward proving something that hadn’t been reported previously.
A newly uncovered troop recharter form substantiates Neil Armstrong’s status as an Eagle Scout and proves that the first person on the moon subscribed to Boys’ Life magazine.
Jim Mason, development director for the BSA’s Black Swamp Area Council, found the priceless artifact on July 22 — just two days after the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. His council was formed about 27 years ago with the merger of the Shawnee Council, of which Armstrong was a member, and the Put-Han-Sen Council.
Mason discovered the document “in an old file cabinet we had in a storage room, while I was looking for something else,” Mason says.
He says the recharter paperwork had a note attached that read, “this paper contains the only reference we have to Neil Armstrong being an Eagle Scout.”
What the document tells us
The recharter form is from October 1949, when Armstrong was 19.
His address is listed as 601 W. Benton St. in Wapakoneta, Ohio, the house into which the Armstrong family moved in 1944. Today, the house is a private residence but remains a popular drive-by attraction for fans of space history.
Armstrong is listed as 19 years old, “E” for Eagle, and an “Associate Scout,” which was the term at the time for someone affiliated with the troop but unable to be a full-time participant in troop activities.
The reason for Armstrong’s “Associate Scout” status was a noble one. In January 1949, he was called into action with the U.S. Navy to fight in the Korean War.
Armstrong’s younger brother was a member of Troop 14, as well. At recharter time, the 14-year-old Dean was a Life Scout.
The Boys’ Life connection
One simple X tells quite the story.
Back then, recharter forms asked troop leaders to confirm whether members are subscribing to Boys’ Life this year: yes or no.
Troop 14 marked “yes.”
While we can’t say for sure, I like to picture Neil Armstrong rushing to the mailbox to get his copy of Boys’ Life each month before Dean or his younger sister, June, could get there.
Neil Armstrong loved planes as a boy, so he would’ve especially enjoyed Boys’ Life stories about aviation and great aviators.
I also like to picture today’s Scouts — boys and girls — reading the BSA’s iconic magazine and getting inspiration for their own small steps and giant leaps.