Scouts Present Honor to Van Roosen
The local Boy Scouts of America will pay tribute tonight to an Eagle Scout, a World War II veteran and a lifetime supporter of the Scouting movement.
The Occoneechee Council and the Moore District will present the 2011 Distinguished Citizen Award to Don Van Roosen, of Whispering Pines.
The award takes place at a dinner and ceremony in his honor at the Country Club of North Carolina.
That's a long way and a long time from what a young Van Roosen was doing on June 6, 1944. At 10 a.m. that day, he was hitting Omaha Beach in Normandy - part of the third wave attacking there in the great Allied D-Day invasion of Europe. In a matter of months, he would go from an infantry private to battlefield commission as a lieutenant and eventual retirement from Army Reserve as a colonel.
Van Roosen credits boyhood adventures in Scouting with providing skills and experiences that readied him for the ordeal of war.
"Being ready," Van Roosen said Monday. "(Scouting) was a big help."
An Eagle Scout, Van Roosen found Scouting and its leadership training helped him on D-Day and tough days that followed.
"We had so many casualties in the 17 miles from the beach to our objective that it took us a month and a half to get there," he said. "We had 10,000 casualties. After about three weeks, somebody came to me and said, 'Would you like to lead a squad?'"
He had learned from positions as a Boy Scout leader in his home troop.
"Leading people was not a problem, so I said 'sure,' and in about two weeks, somebody came back and asked about taking two squads," he said. "By the time August came, and we were well on our way in the breakout, why they came to me and said, 'How about being a second lieutenant?' - that's when I got my battlefield commission."
Looking back now, Van Roosen said Scouting prepared him in ways he did not, at the time, realize for the challenge of leading other men in battle.
"The training itself - woodcraft, leadership, virtues that talked about leadership and being reliable and so forth - were all things that I had had for three or four years as patrol leader and senior patrol leader," he said. "I stood out in front of people and gave them orders, so that is the start of leadership. It was a big help to me personally, and I attribute a lot of what I did to the Scouts."
Van Roosen's combat decorations included the Silver Star, Bronze Star with two clusters, Purple Heart with three clusters, Presidential Unit Citation, French Croix de Guerre with palm, French Fourragere, Combat Infantryman Badge, European Theater Ribbon with campaign stars and Invasion Arrowhead.
He continued his service in the Army Reserve for 23 years, including 12 years in Special Forces with the 11th Special Forces Group as battalion commander and group operations officer.
He retired in 1970 as a lieutenant colonel.
Van Roosen remained active as a Scout for half a century and served in a number of leadership capacities. He received many Scouting awards, including a Silver Antelope, American Scouting's second highest award.
This is the ninth Distinguished Citizen award to be presented. It honors individuals "who have consistently lived their life in a manner best exemplified by the core values and traditions of the Scouting movement" and is given annually to a Moore County resident who exemplifies the Boy Scout oath:
"On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."
Initiated in 2003, the Distinguished Citizen Award is the hallmark of recognition events for Boy Scouting in Moore County. Previous recipients include Dr. Bruce Warlick, Bill Samuels, Dr. Ward Oakley, George and (the late) Teena Little, Edward T. Taws Jr., Frank McNeill Sr., former Gov. James Hols-houser and Don McKenzie.
"Don Van Roosen has unselfishly made a lifelong commitment to his community and to Scouting in addition to bravely serving his country," said Bill Eastman, major gifts chairman for the Occoneechee Council. "He epitomizes the very type of deserving individual we seek to honor with the Distinguished Citizen Award."
Van Roosen and his late wife moved to Pinehurst in 1998 from Cape Cod after having been given a tour of the Sandhills by retired Lt. Gen. William P. Yarborough a few years before.
Since coming to Moore County, Van Roosen has been active in the community, volunteering with the United Way, serving on the Pinehurst Village Planning and Zoning Board and chairing the Water Committee.
Contact John Chappell at email@example.com.
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