Local Eagle Scout candidate establishes flag retirement boxes

Published 8:36 am Thursday, June 13, 2024

By Karen Sampson | Public Affairs

Ryan Barnett Jr., a senior patrol leader and an Eagle Scout candidate from Boy Scouts of America, Fort Johnson Troop 124, took part in a ceremony to place an official U.S. Flag retirement box at the Fort Johnson Visitor’s Center May 22.

Col. CJ Lopez, Fort Johnson garrison commander, spoke at the ceremony and said many community members do not take the time or know the process required in retiring a flag. He said the boxes the aspiring Eagle Scout has established will allow residents to drop off their old, worn flags, which will undergo a respectful and dignified retirement process following the U.S. Flag Code.

“Ryan took on an essential job by finding a way to dispose of our national colors,” Lopez said.

He also noticed abandoned newspaper boxes on the installation and thought they could be refurbished and repurposed instead of budgeting for building materials and new boxes. The boxes were originally used for old print Guardian newspaper distribution. Ryan worked with the Fort Johnson Public Affairs Office to get permission to repurpose the abandoned boxes to use for his project.

The flag retirement boxes are Ryan’s capstone project in pursuing his Eagle Scout rank, which requires the completion of a significant community service project.

“The drop box has forms people can fill out on-site or digitally,” Ryan said.

The form states information about the flag, such as where it was flown and for how long.

In addition to the Fort Johnson box, there were boxes placed in the New Llano and Anacoco municipalities.

With the help of the scouts in Troop 124 and his research and footwork to meet local authorities, Ryan said the project took about 70 hours to accomplish.

“I am deeply appreciative of the support from my parents, the members of Troop 124 and the mentors at JRTC and Fort Johnson who assisted in forging connections with members of the community who, in turn, helped make this project a reality,” he said.

Emphasizing the collaboration behind the project, Ryan said he approached the mayors of both towns and the leadership at Fort Johnson and made his case about the need for the boxes and what they offered the community.

“The Boy Scouts instill in us the importance of honoring the U.S. flag and respecting its retirement. Ryan’s project recognizes the need for this type of education in our community,” said April Barnett, Ryan’s mother and

committee chairperson for the BSA Troop 124.

Underlining the initiative’s significance, she recounted how Ryan overcame numerous challenges, including a limited budget and the search for a sustainable project, demonstrating his determination and commitment to

the cause.

“Ryan was able to effect change in the community,” Barnett said.

She said she was proud of that, as well as the way he has successfully navigated each step of the process to this point.

In order to complete the project and become an Eagle Scout, Ryan must maintain the boxes for one year.