Abbeville Boy Scout Troop 85 celebrates 75 years
On Nov. 16, the Troop 85 celebrated 75 years since its founding in 1938.
The scout-led ceremony was held at Camp Steen in Abbeville, a camp that the troop has frequented for almost 70 years. Camp Steen was founded in 1944 on property donated to the scouts by the Steen family.
The ceremony began with a prayer by Deacon Joseph Hebert and a flag ceremony. Life Scout Emile Hebert, the Master of Ceremonies, then introduced current and former leaders of the troop. He continued by recounting the early days of the troop and the founder’s life. The troop was founded by Catholic priest Father Joseph Verbis Lafleur in May of 1938 at St. Mary Magdalen, with the help of the Knights of Columbus.
The Knights still sponsor the troop today. Hebert described the short life of Father Lafleur. “Father spent much of his time as associate pastor helping youth by coaching boxing, baseball, football, and basketball, as well as helping the Boy Scouts. He then chose to serve as a military chaplain, volunteering for the US Army in 1941.”
Hebert explained that the young chaplain first displayed heroism beyond the call of duty when he completely disregarded his own safety while tending to soldiers’ needs during a Japanese attack on the Phillipene Islands, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for that service. Hebert also explained that as a prisoner of war from 1942-1944, Father Lafleur’s acts of charity multiplied as he always fought for the needs of soldiers and chose to stay with the men even when given the chance to escape. Hebert concluded the story of Father Lafleur’s life. “He ended up on a Japanese prison ship in 1944, bound for Japan. As food became scarce, Father Lafleur continued to show charity by giving away what little rice and water he received. At the end of his life, he calmly led the men in prayer as an American submarine torpedoed their unmarked ship. He was last seen helping soldiers out of the hold of the sinking ship”.
Several “Life in the Troop” stories followed. The first speaker was Jessie Bourque, the troop’s first Eagle Scout (1953). He was followed by Eagle Scouts Claude Ledet, Jr (1964), and Marty Hebert (1992). These former scouts all gave encouragement to the troop to continue to grow in scouting and serve their communities.
The celebration also included the presentation of a framed copy of the original 1938 charter from family members of Father Lafleur.
The troop held a Court of Honor following the gathering, where current scouts were presented rank advancements, merit badges, and other awards.