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UCS student builds war memorial as Eagle Scout project

ScoutsThe vision of Utica Community Schools 8th grader Ben Wodniak has now become a reality.  

Ever since he saw the Vietnam Memorial, the Shelby Junior High School student said he has wanted to do something similar for those in his community who lost their lives in service.

On Veterans Day, that vision became a reality when the impressive war memorial he envisioned was unveiled in front of former service members and their families.

“I always wanted to do something for the soldiers who died in combat,” he said Saturday at the dedication of the memorial, located behind Post 143 in Auburn Hills.

The memorial is his Eagle Scout Project, and honors soldiers who gave their lives in Desert Shield. More than 100 bricks with names of the lost soldiers create a wall around a large plaque with a Desert Shield logo and quote from Sgt. Dodge R Powell.

Wodniak said he chose the wooded area behind the hall after he and his Washington Township-based troop attended flag raising ceremonies and built a trail at the site.

“We are honored to help Ben on his project and privileged to have him select this place for the memorial,” said post commander Greg Inman. “Our primary mission as an American Legion is to support military service members and their families in times of need, and our secondary mission is to support our children, and especially Scouts.”

To earn his Eagle Scout status, Wodniak had to lead the entire project – from vision, to design, to fundraising, to assembling a team of volunteers to create the memorial.  The project was dedicated on Veterans Day - November 11 - with Auburn Hills dignitaries and service members from the post. 

Scouts at memorial