A scout’s honor: Oak Harbor teenager leaves lasting gift to community’s veterans with Eagle Scout service project

Brandon Mackin’s Eagle Scout service project was to organize and lead the building of a fire pit for proper flag retirements at the Oak Harbor American Legion.    - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Brandon Mackin’s Eagle Scout service project was to organize and lead the building of a fire pit for proper flag retirements at the Oak Harbor American Legion.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

To attain the highest rank possible as a Boy Scout, Brandon Mackin needed to come up with an idea for his Eagle Scout service project.

While a member of different troops in other parts of the country, Mackin noticed that most American Legion posts had fire pits to hold flag retirement ceremonies.

However, a trip to American Legion George Morris Post 129 in Oak Harbor revealed no such fire pit.

“They didn’t have one,” Mackin said. “That gave me the idea.”

In August, Mackin supervised the construction of a new fire pit at the Oak Harbor post where damaged American flags may be formally and properly disposed.

That service project was the final piece to being awarded the Eagle Scout rank, culminating 10 years in the Boy Scouts.

A ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Oak Harbor American Legion post on Barrington Street to formally dedicate the fire pit.

The project is a way of paying back the American Legion and veterans for their support of Boy Scouts, said Leo Mackin, Brandon’s dad.

“They were always going to different locations (for flag retirement ceremonies),” Leo Mackin said. “He thought that would be a service project that would give back to veterans.

“The American Legion is a big supporter of Boy Scouts where we’re from.”

Leo Mackin, a flight engineer at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, brought his family to Oak Harbor from the East Coast.

Brandon Mackin, a junior at Oak Harbor High School, has been in Boy Scout troops in Florida, Maryland and Maine before coming to Washington. His parents are from New York state.

Mackin had to earn at least 21 merit badges to climb the ranks to Eagle Scout, and ultimately needed to organize and lead a service project that benefited a religious institution, school or his community.

The project involved friends and family members building the fire pit under Mackin’s supervision.

“An Eagle Scout candidate cannot do anything,” Brandon Mackin said, “only instruct.”

Mackin, 16, can still earn more honors. He plans to stay active in his unit for nine months and meet all other requirements to earn one Palm pin every three months. Palms are worn on the ribbon of the Eagle Scout badge.

Mackin said he’ll most likely go into the military service after high school.

“I’m pretty proud of him,” Leo Mackin said. “It takes a lot of work and effort. There are a lot of times when stuff doesn’t go the way a kid wants it. To pick yourself up and brush yourself off, and to keep the goal in sight, is really impressive. A lot of kids can roll over and quit. He stuck through it and persevered.”

Dennis Jones, senior vice commander at American Legion Post 129, said his post is pleased with the result and grateful.

“We’re very happy with it,” he said. “It was a great idea.”


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