BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — As Tyler Baden goes for regular runs, bike rides or drives in his Jeep, he often passes the Whitehouse American Legion on Providence Street.
“I always ride my bike by here every few days and I noticed they needed to be repainted or refurbished,” Tyler said, pointing to two large guns positioned outside the Post 384 entrance. “So I picked this as my Eagle Scout project.”
Armed with sandpaper, wire brushes and a power washer, Tyler and other Scouts from Troop 101 in Waterville scrubbed and cleaned the two guns, then applied a gray primer. By May 16, Tyler had finished applying an Army green, rust-resistant paint to one of the two guns.
“I want to get them done by May 25,” he said, referring to Memorial Day.
After World War II ended, the U.S. Army sent decommissioned equipment to American Legion posts nationwide for display. In the 1950s, the Whitehouse American Legion received the two inoperable guns. This is the first time the guns have been repainted, believes Post member and former commander Wayne King.
“We’ve tried to get someone to do this before,” King said. “Then Tyler said he wanted to do this for his Eagle Scout project. I couldn’t imagine what it would look like. This is beautiful.”
Tyler organized the work crews through the SignUp-Genius website, and several Scouts and parents chipped in to help. His father, Jeff Baden, did some research and located gently used military tires at a surplus store in Akron. He drove there to spend $100 each on tires to replace those that were welded on and falling apart. He also picked the Army green paint out of 10 similar colors. Soon, the guns will each have an Army insignia on the side.
Tyler said he was motivated to do the project in part for his late grandfather, Dennis Baden, who was a longtime Legion and Air National Guard member. He also thinks the community will appreciate the new look.
“It’s right by the police station, so they can see it as well,” Tyler said.
While Tyler graduated from Anthony Wayne High School in 2018, he was granted a waiver on getting his Eagle Scout project until July 2020 – when he turns 21. As one of three triplets, including Troy and Jessica, Tyler had some health challenges early in his life. He utilized an individualized educational program (IEP) in school, which qualified him for additional time to complete the Eagle Scout project, Jeff said.
The extra time will also give Tyler a chance to finish two more merit badges that he needs to complete for his Eagle Scout ranking: cooking and emergency preparedness. In 2017, he went to Philmont with Jeff and Troy. Camping has been his favorite part of Scouting, he said.
While he’s not Scouting, running or biking, Tyler is often working at Kroger Waterville or Spartan Chemical.