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Friday, January 22, 2021

Eagle Scout Project Honors Fort Thomas Military Heroes

Eagle Scout Jake Daly's project honors Fort Thomas natives who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

by Robin Gee

For his Eagle Scout project, Highlands senior Jake Daly wanted to honor armed services members from Fort Thomas who gave the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our country.

"I’ve always had a strong respect for public service, and I wanted to document those who made this sacrifice," he said.

To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, one of the requirements is a public service project. Scouts, who have achieved the rank of Life Scout, must meet the other requirements to advance to Eagle, including demonstrating leadership skills for at least six months and completing 21 badges. His project would be the culmination of his hard work. 

With his project complete, Daly became an Eagle Scout earlier this month after meeting all the requirements and undergoing a rigorous panel review. "It is a great honor, the highest rank you can attain," he said. 

A project to honor Fort Thomas fallen heroes

The initial idea for the project began when Daly learned about two Fort Thomas graduates who were killed in action In Afghanistan, U.S. Army Private First Class Bradford T. Pickering and Army Reserve Michael R. Bradford. He wanted to do something to honor them.

"I thought there must be a way to recognize the sacrifice of these two heroes but also recognize other Fort Thomas natives who gave this sacrifice to keep us safe," he said.

His work began in 2018 when he was sophomore. After doing some research, he discovered there were 40 soldiers from the city who were killed in battle from World War I through the War on Terror.

He brainstormed a few ideas and landed on one. He wanted to create a public memorial that include the names of all those who had given their lives in battle to protect the country.

"I wanted to create something somewhere easily accessible so all residents could see it every day. I thought Tower Park would be a great location with its history as an army base," he said.

After securing all the necessary permissions, he sat down with experts from Newport-based Roth Monuments and others to work out a design for the memorial. Eagle projects have strict fundraising rules. He raised $1,375 for the project from family and friends and a few organizations, and was able to secure in-kind donations and discounts that helped keep costs low.

He also organized a group of about 40 volunteers, mostly from Troop 70, his troop chartered by St. Thomas Church. Family and friends also helped out. In all, the project took 213 volunteer hours, 80 of which came from Daly himself.

"It was well worth it," he said. "I just think being able to lead such a project was an amazing experience for me, it taught me valuable lessons."


Jake Daly, second from the right, was joined by volunteers from Troop 70 and the community to build the Fort Thomas memorial project.

A project accessible for the all the community to enjoy

The project is complete now and sits in Tower Park, across from the VA hospital. It includes a 10' by 10' gravel area with two wooden benches, but the focal point is a marble monument in the middle. 

On one side are etched the names of all the Fort Thomas residents who died in action, listed alphabetically under each war. On the opposite side is a depiction of the well-known image of soldiers hoisting the US flag at Iwo Jima as well as symbols of each of the five branches of armed services.

The son of former Fort Thomas Police Chief Mike Daly, Jake Daly said service has always been important in his family. His brother and several family members have become Eagle Scouts.

"I’m very passionate about it, motivated by it. I’ve always looked up to my dad and to many great guys along the way who have mentored me," he said.

Some of those mentors may be on the crew of the Southgate Fire Department, where Daly has served as a junior firefighter volunteer. He said he plans to continue to stay active with the department even after graduation. He is currently taking an EMT class and hopes to assist on the ambulance over the summer. 

Daly said he plans to build a career in public service. He’d like to first serve in the army and is looking to go to Eastern Kentucky University or anther local college through the ROTC/National Guard program. After spending a few years in the military, he hopes to begin a career in fire service or criminal justice. 

Volunteers worked with Jake Daly to build two benches placed near memorial project.

Preparing the ground for gravel for the memorial located in Tower Park across from the VA. Daly is in the forefront mixing cement.

In all, volunteers contributed 213 to the memorial project. 

Spreading gravel in final preparation for the marble monument honoring Fort Thomas solidiers who lost their lives in battle. 

A list of the soldiers whose names appear on the memorial. View them in person etched in marble at the memorial in Tower Park.

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