When Brian Athearn joined the Cub Scouts at 5 years old, he never expected to one day be donning the coveted eagle emblem.
Brian Athearn built a firefighter memorial garden at Martinez-Columbia Fire and Rescue's No. 4 station to earn the Eagle Scout award.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
But he completed his Eagle Scout project April 2 with construction of a memorial garden to local firefighters at Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue station No. 4 on Oakley Pirkle Road.
"Really, firefighters are the unsung heroes of our community," said Athearn, who recently turned 18.
Athearn, of Troop 15, designed a slate pathway, garden and pedestal for a statue of a 1900s firefighter that once stood on the porch of the Oakley-Pirkle department's headquarters. Athearn decided to have his project include the memorial after a suggestion regarding the statue from department Capt. Daniel Gwinn, who also is the troop's assistant leader and the department's Board of Trustees vice president and supervisor of volunteers.
Nearly seven months ago, Athearn set out to get approval signatures from his scout leader, Jim Waldron; Martinez Fire Chief Doug Cooper; Jimmy Paschal, the station No. 4 captain; and the scoutmaster, committee chairman and an approving councilman from the Georgia-Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Athearn had to then meticulously plan the project, which included a concrete base for the statue, a plaque dedicated to firefighters past, present and future, and a slate path leading to the memorial.
The plan had to be amended twice because of location changes.
"He did a really good job," Waldron said. "I didn't know what to expect when I read his report. I was thinking different things. But when he went out there and did a really good job on it, it turned out real nice."
Brian Athearn, 18, of Evans, designed and built the plaque at the base of the firefighters statue in the firefighter memorial garden as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
With the help of his master-craftsman grandfather, Wilbur Still, Athearn led more than 12 fellow Scouts and adult leaders during the four-hour installation of the monument April 2.
"I got a lot of craftsman help from my grandfather," said Athearn, an Evans High School senior and son of Debbie Gaskill and grandson of Linda Jones.
"I thought it would be just dig a hole, lay down some slate and put a concrete pedestal up. But it was a lot more than that.''
Gwinn said he presented the Eagle Scout emblem that he had earned in 1980 to Athearn because he was so proud of him.
The emblem, which also symbolizes Athearn's move to an adult assistant scout leader, came with one condition.
"The only thing I ask you in repayment is one day, when you see a kid struggling, you do what we did with you," Gwinn told Athearn.
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