Mountain View Senior Overcomes to Earn Eagle

Thomas Gill, who has spina bifida, led his troop in a green infrastructure project for Widewater State Park. Fewer than 6% of Scouts earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

Eighteen-year-old Thomas Gill, 18, a senior at Mountain View High School, celebrated earning the BSA rank of Eagle Scout on Saturday, April 20, with a ceremony and reception held at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fredericksburg, Virginia. 

State Senator Tara Durant, Delegate Paul Milde, and Senior Vice Commandant of the Marine Corps League, Jack Maas Detachment, Christina Wanzer attended the ceremony and honored Thomas with commendations.

Thomas led Scouts BSA Troop 850 from St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, in the Aquia District, National Capital Area Council, to build a rain-barrel reclamation system at Widewater State Park to supply water to volunteers watering a pollinator garden and park maintenance. 

With his fellow Scouts and his dad, Dennis, Thomas, built stands for rain barrels from scratch and retrofitted plain, cheaper barrels to show the Scout Law value of being Thrifty.  He raised funds for the project from friends and family members and successfully executed the project within three months. 

Thomas earned 21 Merit Badges including Disability Awareness, Nuclear Science and Railroading, the latter being his favorite. This all culminated in his earning the rank of Eagle Scout on December 20, 2023. 

When asked how he feels about obtaining Eagle Scout, Thomas says, “I can do hard things like this because I can do all things though Christ who gives me strength,” quoting Philippians 4:13.

Thomas faced uncommon challenges on his way to Scouts BSA’s highest rank. He has spina bifida, a neural tube birth defect which affects his ability to walk and do physically demanding tasks. He can walk very short distances using forearm crutches. 

Thomas started his Scouting career as a Cub Scout in the National Capital Area Council Pack 845 in second grade. 

According to Thomas’ mom, Elba, Thomas’ Cub Scout Pack Leader, Joe Hernandez, an active-duty Marine, encouraged Thomas to “always do his best and never give up— and it worked!”

Thomas says he joined Troop 850 “because they welcomed me without anyone asking what was wrong with my legs.”

He went on multiple camping trips and hikes with his Troop, including a ten-miler at Gettysburg.  He held several leadership positions in Troop 850 including Historian and Chaplains Aide.  

Reaching the Scouts BSA highest rank is a rare achievement, attained by fewer than 6% of Scouts. Thomas has achieved this rank despite having a challenging physical disability.

He will graduate in May and plans to attend Germanna Community College to earn an associate degree in mechanical engineering and then potentially transfer to a four- year university. 

Ready to begin your family’s Scouting adventures too? To join BSA, please go to www.beascout.org to find a BSA Scout unit near you. Cub Scouting serves families with children in kindergarten through 5th grade and Scouts BSA serves families with children ages 11-18.

There are BSA programs for families with older youths, ages 14 – 20, including Venturing, Exploring or Sea Scouting.

The mission of the BSA is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Law. Aquia District includes Stafford County, VA, and Marine Corps Base Quantico.

For more information on Scouting in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area, including how to donate, join or volunteer, contact Kristy Freeman, Aquia District Executive, at [email protected] or call (540)287-3866.  

by Mike Haas
GUEST WRITER

Managing Editor and Correspondent