88-year-old man finally gets Eagle Scout rank

Joining the elite, top 5% of all Boy Scouts, Walter Hart was awarded his Eagle rank in a ceremony Saturday in Fort Myers, Florida. Walter is 88.

There was a 70+ year delay in Walter’s ceremony — he passed the requirements for the rank, but then went off to fight in World War II before the award was made.

The Associated Press story ran in the New York Times:

”I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” said Hart, who lives in a retirement center in nearby Lehigh Acres.

Scout officials say he may be the oldest person to ever earn the honor.

Hart joined the Cub Scouts in 1928 in Malden, Mass., and earned 23 merit badges during his years as a Boy Scout, scouting officials said. Of the 120 merit badges available, 21 must be earned to qualify for Eagle Scout rank.

It all got set aside when he joined the Navy during World War II and served two years aboard the USS Alfred A. Cunningham.

Last year, he rediscovered some of his old Boy Scout memorabilia, including documents that showed he completed the requirements for his Eagle Scout rank. He contacted the Scouts about receiving his award.

”I think this was something that was always on his mind, but every time he went to go do it, something else came up,” daughter Elizabeth Gatturna said. ”I know how hard he’s tried to get to this point.”

Congratulations, Walter.

Walter Hart, 88, rec'd Eagle Badge 7-28-2007

  • Walter Hart, 88, is shown wearing a 2007 Boy Scout uniform with the merit badge sash he used as a youth, prior to World War II. Apart from the not-quite fit, we can tell the sash is his old one because many of the merit badges are in their pre-World War II designs, and the sash shows rank badges for Star Scout and Life Scout; current uniform rules do not allow rank badges on the sash. Under Scout rules, Walter may wear this sash for his Scouting career. Associated Press photo.

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14 Responses to 88-year-old man finally gets Eagle Scout rank

  1. […] Eagle Scout, Walter Hart Working to confirm, but news from Florida and a highly reliable source is that Walter Hart died over the weekend, at 91 by my […]


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Sorry to hear, Mike. Please accept my condolences.

    Hundreds of people have read his story — he remains in our memories as an inspiration to many, many people.

    (Would you be so kind as to alert us of any obituaries that run?)


  3. mike says:

    Walter passed away Sunday 7/18/10. He was very proud to have achieved his Eagle Scout award. Having served in WWll and the Boy Scouts were some of his fondest memories. He had that sash by his side at all times.
    Walter was a great person and he was my dad. thanks for all the kind comments-

    God Bless
    and take care


  4. kasey mills says:

    congradulations, ima second class right now but workin on eagle and you made me want eagle even more thanks


  5. Gary D. Delgado says:

    Walter, as a very proud parent of a soon to be Eagle Scout, I congratulate you and wish you all the best. Your story is wonderful….


  6. David S. French says:

    Double Eagle CONGRATULATIONS to Mr. Walter Hart. First for serving in the military during WWII when our country needed his services most and for attaining the rank of Eagle Scout (ES). That is quite an honor and not too soon in being awarded to

    I too will agree the ES Rank is certainly not overrated. Being an ES was the best gift I
    could give to myself with all the encouragement and support from Family and Friends. On the other hand, your final rank in Scouting should never be considered an under achievement either. If that was the case, then the BS of A has a 95% failure rate if only 5% of boys attain the rank of ES. There are more adult Star and Life Scoutmasters then Eagle Scouts. Always be thankful that good volunteer adult men and women stay involved with guiding our youth whether in scouting or other youth groups. That type of commitment should never be considered overrated.

    My father like Mr. Hart is a WWII Army Veteran, lives in Florida and is 88 years old. He for all intense and purposes is considered “A Life Scout for Life”. He was disabled as a youth and was unable to complete 2 requirements for the Bird Study Merit Badge (MB) which was a Eagle Rank required MB at the time. Also, MB requirements could not be altered or waived in the case of a physical impairment. Nothing would make my Dad’s life more complete then to have his ES badge awarded to him. Although there have been several attempts over the years, he is still without it.

    To his credit though, he has never focused on himself; instead he continues to this day to look forward to the next family member working towards the ES rank. Proudly I was the first ES in our family, followed by 6 more over the years. Another ES will be added to the list on June 8, 2008 bringing the total to 8. My father has had his hands, heart, influence and support in everyone of them as well as many, many others scouts outside the family.

    Yours In Scouting



    CONGRATULATIONS to Walter. I think that it is great that BSA agreed to recognize him for his achievements. I did notice from the picture that he is not wearing the eagle badge or pin. I know that after the age of 18 they are not allowed to wear it on their uniform, but I hope that he atleast received it.

    As far as an Eagle rank being overrated, not hardly. It is a lot of had work and dedication on the boy’s part. It is something they will be proud of their entire life and should be. For many scouts it is their first major accomplishment as a young man.
    I know our son is very proud of his Eagle award as are we as parents. My husband is a Scoutmaster and our troop has a very high percentage of Eagles and we see first hand how hard these young men work and how seriously they take their scouting career. We feel very privelaged to work with these scouts and help them learn skills that will last a life time. Life scouts do put in hard work also but, they haven’t fullfilled their requirements and should not be given equal standing.


  8. New Eagle says:

    WAY TO GO, WALTER!!!!!!!!!


  9. New Eagle says:

    Yeah, 2 Dishes sounds like a whiny Life Scout to me. A lot of people make it to Life and then assume Eagle is in the bag. By the time they realize they need to get on it, it’s too late. Now, I know several guys like this and they did put a lot of work into getting to Life, but, man, Eagle is a much bigger deal.


  10. BRUCE WAYNE says:

    TWO DISHES, Do you have a clue what an Eagle stands for? It is never overrated !
    I guess you never made Eagle? If you did, you would have honored him with a congratulations. you should be ashamed. Congratulations Walter! I too was a late getting my Eagle because of Government involvement. Gods speed.


  11. Barry Groves says:

    What a great story. Superb that it still meant enough to Walter to make him try to get his well deserved Eagle Award. A real inspiration to all scouts throughout the world. My best wishes go to him from the UK and Isle of Wight Scouts! Barry Groves


  12. John Manning says:

    Congratulations to Walter!! A job well done. Honor to him for his Scout and Navy service in saving the world from tyranny and despotism. A worthy record for us to follow.


  13. Two Dishes says:

    Eagle is overrated! I say give Life rank equal standing.

    I hope those vintage merit badges on his sash end up somewhere deserving! Their designs are so timeless that I can pretty much tell still what badge each one is.


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