A sudden cold front and a forebodingly dark sky spelled trouble for attendees of the Alamo Scout graduation ceremony held last Saturday on Galen Kittleson’s farm.
The ceremony was being held to recognize the young men and women who had participated in the week long program. Before the rain came, the Scouts demonstrated a drill and individual Scouts displayed the aptitude they had developed over the past week at such activites as pull ups, tire flips, and tree climbing.
The knot tying competition was nixed, and the ceremony was moved to the inside of a nearby shed, where each Scout was recognized and given their new title within the program.
The Alamo Scouts was originally a reconnaissance unit of the Army during World War II, which helped rescue prisoners of war in Papua New Guinea and the Phillippines. Kittleson, a Sgt. Major in the unit, was an active participant in more POW raids than anyone in U.S. history and is one of the most decorated soldiers in the military.
After retiring from the military as a Command Sgt. Major in Special Forces in 1978, Sgt. Major Kittleson returned to his hometown of Toeterville. Four years later, he started the Alamo Scouts as an offshoot of the Venturing program of the Boy Scouts of America, on his farm. While there, kids aged 13 to 19 are given training similar to Basic Military Training, in addition to learning such valuable life skills as self reliance, communication, and leadership.
“You have to be a good follower before you can be a good leader,” said Gary Pearson, a Command Sgt. Major in the Alamo Scout program for the past 20 years. “The best part of the camp is seeing the kids realize that they can be good leaders.”
Several alums of the program have subsequently gone into the military. One example is Brandon Livingston, who participated in the Alamo Scouts in 2011 and 2013, and is now a Senior Airman in the United States Air Force.
“This program prepared me for everything,” Livingston said. “Once I got into BMT, it was a breeze. All the discipline that was instilled in me here, I was able to use in BMT and in the Air Force.”
All in all, the rain didn’t seem to bother the Scouts.
To quote the late Sgt. Major Kittleson, “If it’s not raining, you’re not training.”