1031SCOUTSaudListen as Ed Milner, Boy Scout Troop 26’s first Eagle Scout, talks about returning to Gainesville for the troop’s 75th anniversary.
Ed Milner doesn't remember a whole lot of fanfare around becoming Boy Scout Troop 26's first Eagle Scout in 1942.
But he did recall the new pastor of First Baptist Church of Gainesville at the time giving him a "warm, encouraging letter" about his achievement.
"That made it really kind of special," said Milner, now 82 and living in New York.
The troop, which meets at First Baptist, has made minting Eagles a serious business,
having produced 278 of them over its 75-year history, including 10 new ones this year.
And it plans to recognize the old and new Eagles, as well as mark its anniversary, in a dinner and reunion set for Saturday at the church on Green Street.
"It's a special event, that's for sure," said Milner, who last visited Gainesville in 1994 when he attended his mother's memorial service.
"I was noticing on the roster (those) who have
earned their Eagles and some of them I remember very well. There will be some people there that I certainly will know, although it's been a long time."
Dr. Trevor Hooper, Troop 26's assistant scoutmaster, said he got the idea for the reunion in late 2008.
"I started the Eagle search ... in 2009 and it pretty much took six months to search for everybody," he said.
"Eventually, we located them all. It was more of an excitement when we found out the first Eagle was still living."
Hooper said he is expecting 151 Eagles at the event.
Nearly 500 people, also including family members and former Scout leaders, have said they plan to attend.
Monday is the troop's official birthday, "but we decided to celebrate it on a Saturday because more people can come to town for this," Hooper said. "And we wanted to have a big dinner and get-together."
The event will feature a group photograph, a meal, a video presentation on the troop's history and remarks by Alvin Townley, an Eagle Scout and author who has written about famous Eagles.
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Nathan Deal, who is running against Democrat Roy Barnes in Tuesday's election, is the keynote speaker.
Also, the troop's "Edward M. Milner Eagle Scout Class of 2010" - the 10 newest Eagles - will be presented.
All the Eagle Scouts are invited to stay for the morning service at First Baptist.
"My goal and hope is a large number will come and we'll have the new Eagles on the front and we'll recognize them," Hooper said. "And then we'll have all the others stand up.
"I think it would be very impressive to fill up that center section."
Hooper's son, Tyler, is the troop's newest Eagle.
The 14-year-old, who is in the eighth grade at DaVinci Academy in South Hall, said he built an outdoor classroom at First Baptist as his service project.
As for being the newest Eagle, "it' very exciting," he said. "I was kind of nervous I wouldn't get it."