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Scouts add Charlie Duke to its local Hall of Fame

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By Greg Summers

Last fall, volunteers launched a local scouting Hall of Fame to recognize those whose footprints have made a difference to the lives of others by a lifetime devoted to community service.

One set of those footprints with Lancaster ties was into the lunar surface in  the Descartes Highlands on April 21, 1972.

The man who made them – Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke – the 10th man to walk on the moon – is among the four who will be inducted as a member of the local scouting Hall of Fame during the Friends of Scouting banquet on March 5 at the Fairway Room. Duke is also the keynote speaker that night.

The other inductees are Jack Caskey, Don Scott and the late Bob Hardin.

Hardin, affectionately known as “Uncle Bob,” was the district Boy Scout excutive until his death. 

Local Boy Scouts executive Art Harris said the selection committee of longtime Scout volunteers couldn’t have selected a more deserving group for 2010, with the Boy Scouts of America celebrating its 100th anniversary as an organization.

“The only way to build the future is to remember the contributions of those in past,” Harris said. “We’re celebrating 100 years and it’s people like this in scouting who have gotten us to the point we are at.”       

Duke will join his brother, Dr. Billy Duke in the Lancaster County Boy Scout Hall of Fame. 

Duke, who received his Eagle Scout badge as a member of Troop 72 in 1949, is also recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. Whenever there is an Eagle Scout presentation in Lancaster County, the Duke brothers are mentioned as role models for other young Eagles to follow.

Caskey and Scott are also distinguished Eagle Scouts.

Charlie Duke left Lancaster High School in 1951 after his sophomore year to attend Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Duke graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1957 and also earned an aeronautics degree from MIT in 1964.

He served in the U.S. Air Force as a fighter pilot, test pilot and flight instructor.

In 1965, Duke was one of 19 astronauts selected by NASA for its Apollo lunar program. He served in a supporting role for Apollo 10 and Apollo 11 and was the back-up lunar module pilot for Apollo 13 and 17.

Duke served as lunar module pilot for Apollo 16 (April 16-27, 1972),  which included fellow astronauts John Young and Thomas Mattingly.

Apollo 16 was the first scientific lunar expedition, and Young and Duke spent more than 71 hours on the moon’s surface.      

After retiring from the U.S. Air Force as a brigadier general in 1975, Duke entered private business.

An active lay speaker and author, he is president of Duke Ministry For Christ.   

He became a Christian, and is also active in prison ministry. Duke is also the author of the book, “Moonwalker.”

Duke and his wife, Dottie, now live in New Braunfels, Texas. They have two children and nine grandchildren.    

Harris said a print of Duke by local artist Jim Shore will also be auctioned off at the banquet, with proceeds going to fund local scouting programs. 

“The print is from a past Comporium phone book cover,” Harris said.

The Friends of Scouting banquet is free, but those who attend will be asked to make a monetary pledge to help fund local scouting programs. Harris said a Boy Scout open house is planned for Aug. 15 at the county’s four middle schools.

“Right now, there are about 500 boys in Lancaster County involved in scouting,” Harris said.

“We’d like to see that number grow, but that takes everyone working together and it takes a commitment by the community.”

Want to go?

WHAT: Friends of Scouting  Banquet

WHEN: 7 p.m. March 5

WHERE: The Fairway Room at Lancaster Golf Course

HOW MUCH: Free, but attendees will be asked to make a pledge to fund scouting programs.

INFORMATION: (803) 493-5969 or aharris@bsamail.org