Mike Walton (blackeagle)

Find a Need

By: Posted On: 2020-06-08

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Cortney Grosz provided the images for me...thanks!


I collect, trade, and sell a lot of various Scouting items. The things I tend to keep are tied to my membership and service in several locations as a volunteer.  I also keep things which tie my military service -- as a combat Signaleer, personnel manager, and public affairs manager/director/stick arranger  -- to my Scouting service as a mentor, counselor, committee member, and supporter.

For instance, I have lots of patches and parts -- segments -- of patches associated with my service as a member of the BSA's Transatlantic Council.  In my day, it was headquartered between Heidelberg and Mannheim, Germany sharing a small base with the European headquarters of the Army's Criminal Investigative Command (CID it was called back in those days).  We shared the building with the Girl Scouts of the USA's European headquarters.   Later, we moved the offices to Italy and today we do the "open house" for our new (and hopefully more permanent) facility in Brussels, Belgium.  The patches I collected, bought, traded, and find, reflect the changing nature of Scouting in Europe.  They remind me that "the program hasn't changed -- just the people in it and the way we have to bring the program to them." I still collect and trade those items to this day, close to 50 years since I started Scouting as a youth.

I have various types of phones and communications devices in my offices.  I have three: the office space in part of the basement in Minnesota, my work office here in Tennessee, and my mom's office (now my brothers and mine) in Kentucky.  In each office there are working and "display only" phones, machines and devices; computers and accessories; flags and signaling devices, and images of phones and signaling devices along with Scouts using them -- then and now.   I spent the first third of my military career as a communicator -- a Signal Officer -- at various levels. I learned from school and then from experienced Signal Sergeants how to connect and disconnect telephones; how to lay two, sixteen and 64-strand wire and cable; how to install and remove heavy field radios and their associated devices which allow secure communication; how to install, operate and test manual and automated switchboards; how to lay an azimuth and determine the height for various "shots" between locations; and how to "tap dance" to my Commander when those things don't work when he needs for them to work.

Many of those things I learned from Scouting -- radio, electricity, electronics, computers, and public speaking merit badges, for instance.  The Signal School added onto my Scouting experiences and my first two Army assignments built upon that knowledge.  It was no surprise that ten years later, a Chief Warrant Officer Three and myself took parts from "trashed" computers, purchased some memory at a discounted price, built, had them painted Army Green and tested 17 computer systems.  Installing some relatively cheap software onto them, we shipped them and monitors down to Bosnia, connecting them to a small network and had Soldiers to use them until the Army could afford to ship better and newer systems during the next fiscal year. 

The issue was that there were no computers "to be had" to almost immediately send to Bosnia to stand up a critical information node.  We saved the Army a quarter-million dollars and some change.  I saved a piece of cardboard from one of the Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE) case boxes we placed the computers in. I wrote the following with a black marker and attached to various office walls I worked at since those days. The words say it best:

"Find a need, develop a plan, do your best to execute a plan, and share the plan."

When I was a BSA District Commissioner, that was my mantra toward increasing our reach to units in our six-county District.  Those of you familiar with the Eagle Scout service/leadership project, know that this is exactly what we ask Eagle candidates to do.

The images here are of a BSA telephone/telegraph device, circa 1934.   It is not mine, although someday I would love to have one of those -- a really cool treasure. It was used for practice (Morse code) and emergency usage. Back in the day, Scouts and Explorers involved in the BSA's Emergency Response Corps learned how to connect phones to the "network" (telephone poles) in order to send code and/or voice from remote places. The first "cell phones" if you will.

Scouter Duane Klink, doing a little research, found his copy of "Boy Scouts Encyclopedia of Collectibles and Pricing Information" from Feb 2014 by Maurice G. Lambert.  He wrote, "It is listed there as a Telephone set - circa 1938. It looks like it was cat # 1091 - telephone similar to the WWII military-type Field Phones, and may have been listed in the equipment catalogs between 1929 through 1938 - lists today about $100.00".

I would love to own one of those field telephone/telegraph devices.  In the meantime, I will enjoy the images and help with "finding a need..." 



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