Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Eagle Scout's project honors fallen soldier

Patrick Prior’s Eagle Scout project is a shelter at the C.W. Bill Young Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. With him are his dad, David Prior, left, and the Revs. Thomas Dieter and Francis Dionne.


Patrick Prior’s Eagle Scout project is a shelter at the C.W. Bill Young Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. With him are his dad, David Prior, left, and the Revs. Thomas Dieter and Francis Dionne.

ST. PETERSBURG — Clad in badges and khakis, Scouts from Troop 236 pledged to the flag and the memory of Col. William Wood at the memorial constructed over weeks of labor.

Patrick Prior, 15, knew he needed to complete a service project to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. The Osceola Fundamental High School student searched for inspiration from his grandfather and settled on a covered structure with seating to accommodate the putting green and shuffleboard courts at C.W. Bill Young Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

"It's what an Eagle project is all about, improving society," Patrick said when the day finally came. "The veterans here, they deserve it. … It's one of the most important things in Scouting."

There was no need for fundraising from the moment Patrick announced his plans. Family, friends and veterans who caught word of his project donated more than $3,500. Patrick counts himself lucky to have a large family and friend base to contribute to costs throughout construction. Their contributions led him to earn the Eagle Scout designation on Feb. 10.

It was halfway through the project that David Prior suggested to his son that the project be a memorial. Wood studied at Florida State University with Prior and participated in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Prior joined the Reserves while Wood continued to climb military ranks until earning the title of colonel in Iraq. He was killed by a roadside improvised explosive device shortly after promotion. Wood left behind a wife and teenage daughter.

"Col. Wood was a very squared-away guy," Prior said. "The Scout motto is: 'Be prepared.' Colonel was that, he lived that."

The troop turned its weekends over to the project, more than 395 cataloged hours. The wood posts weighed 300 pounds, but there were enough hands to help raise them, including Russell DeBerry, a 20-year carpentry expert.

"I just like helping the Scouts," DeBerry said. "Providing the tools and the knowledge to do it. It helps to teach them safety, responsibility. Once you start a job, you have to finish it."

Service projects for Scouts are usually simpler, according to Boy Scouts coordinator Candice Nyarkoh. Flower beds, benches, and birdhouses are the most common service projects.

"What is really amazing is that they dedicated it to a fallen soldier," said Nyarkoh of the 90-year-old troop. "This is a legacy for them. Not only have they been one of the longest troops in this area, but they've also done something to memorialize somebody like that."

Half an hour after the family left for the memorial dedication ceremony, a letter from Nanci Wood, the colonel's widow, appeared in David Prior's email inbox.

"My daughter Rachel and I are deeply touched that this shelter is dedicated in Bill's memory," Wood wrote. "It is our hope that it will provide a place of peace and rest for our wounded heroes and their families."

Eagle Scout's project honors fallen soldier 02/21/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 21, 2014 4:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. YouTube's Minecraft sensation Dan TDM brings live show to Clearwater


    Dan Middleton's YouTube channel has had more than 10 billion views since 2012.

    Dan Middleton's Dan TDM live tour is set to stop in Clearwater on Sunday. [Photo by Emily Herogian]
  2. Lightning's Mathieu Joseph on the rise at development camp


    BRANDON — The last 12 months have been quite the ride for Mathieu Joseph.

    Mathieu Joseph checks Carolina's Jake Bean during a preseason game in September in Tampa.
  3. Pinellas legislators talk governor's race, policy at delegation breakfast


    If anybody was expecting state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, to quit being coy and and announce his bid for the 2018 governor's race to the friendly crowd at Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual legislative delegation breakfast Wednesday, they left disappointed.

  4. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community for the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at DOT's Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Ave. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Times]
  5. Florida Orchestra and Tampa Bay Master Chorale scrap search for a joint conductor


    TAMPA — After a yearlong effort, the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and the Florida Orchestra have abandoned their search for a conductor capable of leading both groups.

    Doreen Rao conducts a concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra in December 2010. Photo by Enid Bloch.