Eagle Scout in Kennewick honors troops

Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldMay 21, 2014 

At 14, Hunter Robbins of Kennewick has lived almost all his life with the United States at war with al-Qaida.

When choosing an Eagle Scout project, Hunter told his family he wanted to honor those in the military. He decided on a granite monument complete with a 20-foot flag pole.

The memorial in Kennewick's Riverview Cemetery will be dedicated at 9 a.m. Monday in ceremonies including members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Hunter's Boy Scout Troop 275.

Raising the money took about a year. To complete the memorial, Hunter bought a flag and arranged to have it flown over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It will fly in Kennewick for the first time on Memorial Day.

The memorial is dedicated to the Kennewick Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5785.

The inscription on one side reads, "In honor of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5785 would like to thank you and offer this memorial as a tribute to your service in providing peace and security for our nation."

Hunter originally wanted to place the memorial at the 9-11 remembrance near the Southridge Sports and Events Complex in Kennewick, he said. But the city said no.

Hunter knew Mueller's Funeral Homes has other veterans' memorials in their cemeteries, so he and his father, Joe McGrath of Kennewick, went to talk to them.

"Hunter and his dad said they have an idea for a project and were looking for a place to do it. I told them we already have a big memorial at Desert Lawn, but let's talk," said Amy Coffman, one of the owners of Mueller's.

She suggested Riverview Cemetery at the corner of Tenth and Olympia streets in Kennewick as a site. There's already a memorial there dedicated to those who served in World War I and World War II, but nothing for those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, she said.

Coffman has great admiration for Hunter, she said.

"When I asked him how he raised the money, it's about $2,000 total, Hunter said he saved all his money from doing chores around the house," Coffman said. "What 14-year-old takes all his money and puts it towards something like this for people he doesn't know?"

The VFW also donated $500 towards the project, McGrath said.

Lowe's Home Improvement donated plants and flowers for the cemetery. Hunter's family and people in the community donated cash too.

Hunter bought the granite monument at cost through Mueller's. The funeral home also arranged to have it engraved at cost and paid for the installation, Coffman said.

"Installation would normally run $400 to $600 because we had to pour a large, 3-foot deep concrete slab," she said.

Hunter attends 8th grade at Desert Hills Middle School in Kennewick. His mother is Serenity Brier of Kennewick.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

Several events are planned around the Mid-Columbia region in honor of Memorial Day.

Here’s a list of some of them:

-- A memorial reading to honor fallen service members is planned at Columbia Basin College’s veterans monument today.

The event is from 10 a.m. to noon and is being arranged by CBC’s Veterans Center.

Individuals may participate in the event by reading from the list of names of servicemen from Washington who were killed in action or by speaking the name or names of someone they know who has died while serving.

-- The Memorial Day Community Celebration sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7952, will be two days at Sunset Gardens, 915 Bypass Highway in Richland.

Army Reserves Maj. Katherine Kennedy will speak. More than 1,000 flags will be flown and hot dogs and ice cream will be served.

The event is from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, with a releasing of doves at 11 a.m. Monday.

-- Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5785 and several funeral homes plan two Memorial Day events Monday in Kennewick.

Services are at 9 a.m. Monday at Riverview Heights Cemetery at 10th Avenue and Olympia Street and also at 11 a.m. at Desert Lawn Memorial Park at 10th Avenue and Union Street.

-- The Walla Walla Veterans Affairs Medical Center plans its annual Memorial Day Service at 9 a.m. Monday at the campus chapel at 77 Wainwright Drive.

Walla Walla Mayor Jerry Cummins, a 22-year Navy veteran, will speak. The event will include flowers donated by local veterans organizations, but guests also are welcome to bring their own flowers for distribution.

Light refreshments will be provided after the service.

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