Boy Scouts and Volunteers Repair Damage with Adhesives from Braxton-Bragg

Peter J. Marcucci

Special Correspondent

Volunteers on the project included former Scoutmaster Tom Walker (kneeling, far left) and Scoutmaster Brian Carmer (also kneeling), Joseph Hinton (back to camera), and Brian CarmerIt was early september 2011–a senseless act of vandalism had occurred in the two-centuries old West Somerset Cemetery in Somerset, New York. Over fifteen thousand dollars of damage had been wreaked, leaving the townspeople of Somerset distraught and saddened by the desecration of the many veterans’ and citizens’ graves that had stood peacefully weathering for so many years. 

A toppled monumentAmong those saddened and disturbed by the senseless vandalism was 17-year-old Boy Scout Joseph Hinton, an eight-year member of troop 26.

He was appalled at first sight by what a contemptuous few had done to the many, and after learning of the enormous dollar amount needed for his town of Somerset to do the repairs, Joseph replaced that vision of destruction with his own, and, as all were about to learn, this vision was the silver-lining in the cloud that had cast its dark shadow over his hometown.

It was then with his innate sense of goodness and the baked-in leadership skills that he had acquired and embraced through the many years of scouting that Joseph decided to take action. And so it was born–the West Somerset Cemetery Project.

“Sometime in September 2011, I had heard about the vandalism that had taken place, and it was suggested to me that a reconstruction effort would be a good Eagle Scout project,” Joseph said. “I was in need of an Eagle project and it looked like a great assignment to take on. I began by arranging an on-site meeting with Mr. Denny, the town supervisor of water and grounds.” 

Resetting a monument on a solid foundation with a strong epoxySoon after their conversation, Mr. Denny and Joseph (camera in hand) met to do a walkthrough to assess the damage and figure out what was needed to restore the cemetery. As they slowly walked, Mr. Denny pointed out the damage while Joseph snapped the pictures. During our interview, Joseph confided that his first feelings were of sadness and bewilderment, adding, “So many gravestones had been pushed over. How could someone do this?”

It was then that he decided he would like to restore the many damaged gravesites. The preliminary work didn’t end there, though. Joseph still needed approval from Scoutmaster Brian Carmer, the town council, and finally—the town board. With plans and photos in hand and Mr. Denny by his side, the project was deemed worthy by all concerned, and official permission was given to begin restoration.

A restored monumentIt was now May 2012, eight months later. After much planning had taken place, it was decided that the restoration should be done in two phases: reset the undamaged gravestones, then repair the broken.

With great enthusiasm, Joseph and his fellow Scouts then turned thought into action, and the many volunteers consisting of families and Scouts, rolled up their sleeves and began the arduous task of restoration and beautification. 

“When we began phase one, there were seventeen of us,” explained Joseph.

“We were very organized and we just started getting it done. We began by raising up all of the headstones and monuments that had been pushed over.

We then shored them up with dirt to help make them sturdy and keep them as straight as possible. Everything went well that day and we were all looking forward to the second phase next week.” 

Before phase two could begin, more supplies were needed for the repairs to the broken headstones that now remained. The previous donations that the Scouts had received from the many helpful citizens through a local newspaper article that had been written about the boys was enough to purchase the plywood and clamps, but more funds were necessary for the bonding materials that were also needed. That’s when Joseph’s Mom, Ann Hinton, put in a call to salesman Daryl Lynch at Braxton-Bragg. Daryl, upon hearing the problem, immediately knew what to do. 

Monument before repair“I remember receiving a call one morning from Mrs. Hinton,” explained Daryl. “She described what had happened and wondered if there was an adhesive that we had available, and would be willing to donate to help the Scouts with their project. I then specified Tenax Domo 10, a two-part epoxy that is easy to use and holds strong even in the outdoors.

I then spoke to Braxton-Bragg product manager, Steve Bussell, explaining the circumstances and the request. He quickly approved the donation, and we shipped the product. We were glad to do our small part to help the Boy Scouts make a big difference in their community.”

Monuments after repairIt was one week later that phase two had kicked in, and with plywood, clamps and Tenax Domo 10 in hand, the repairs began in earnest.

Like an assembly line, the epoxy was mixed and applied by former Scoutmaster Tom Walker as the broken chunks were aligned and clamped by the Scouts, parents and scoutmaster, and it was with true team spirit, six separate visits, and over one hundred hours logged that the team of seventeen had restored more than 50 gravesites. The rest is history.

In the end, those who had worked collectively shoulder-to-shoulder, saw their efforts brought to fruition, and a town that had been violated, now had restored honor by a group of determined Scouts who now embodied more character and heartfelt pride than ever before.

They had not only created strong bonds in the repaired monuments, they had forged stronger bonds between themselves and the community, truly a testimony that sometimes the events created by the worst of some, bring out the best in others. Instead of waiting for someone else to take responsibility, Joseph Hinton and his fellow Scouts grabbed the ball and ran for the touchdown. 

Tenax Domo 10 two-part epoxy was recommended for the repairs because of its strength and weatherability. Tom Walker applies a generous coat of Tenax Domo 10 before positioning and clamping the broken sections in place.As we ended our conversation, I asked Joseph if he’d do it again, and he responded simply by saying—“Oh, yeah!”

BSA Brandon Carmer (left) and fellow Scout Mike Lantinen record measurements for the plywood forms needed for phase two repairs. Inset: Joey Hinton holds his completed Eagle Service Project book. Over 50 gravesites were restored at the West Somerset Cemetery.

restored monuments