Lodge Ledger: WWII Veteran Reflects on Scouting

By Nick Allen

Just weeks after he flew his first combat mission against a Japanese airfield on March 19th, 1945, Navy Ensign Donald McPherson defeated his first two Japanese dive bombers during an assault on the island of Kikaijima. A month later, on May 4th, he destroyed another three kamikaze planes, earning McPherson the title of “fighter ace”. However, McPherson’s service did not stop after he left the Navy - he joined the Boy Scouts of America in 1958 as a member of his Boy Scout troop’s committee.

His service continued beyond the troop. He served in a number of positions, including Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, unit commissioner, district chairman and various positions within the district committee. During this time, he earned the Scouter’s Key and Silver Beaver Awards and was elected into the Order of the Arrow.

“As a Scouter, it was an important step in my life to be inducted into the Order of the Arrow to help me teach boys the values of brotherhood, cheerfulness and service -- things I already believed in,” McPherson reflected. “My eighteen months of flight training gave me a chance not just to live those values, but to be an example to other young men who may not have been exposed to those traits.”

Based on his life experiences, McPherson said that “Be Prepared” is a recurring concept in one’s duties in aviation. The U.S. Navy stressed that principle in every phase of his training from the knowledge of mechanics, airology and navigation to cooperation, teamwork, determination and courage. “In combat, if you are not prepared, your chances of survival can be greatly diminished,” he says, “Preparedness and teamwork are absolute necessities.”

Outside of Scouting, McPherson helped form a summer recreation program for boys and girls in his hometown. For eight summers, he managed and coached eight teams of varying age groups starting in the third grade in an American Legion-sponsored baseball league. He also formed a rifle marksmanship program to teach shooting and hunting safety.

As with many veterans, McPherson didn’t speak much about the war initially. However, as time passed, he opened up more on his experiences. He began to speak at middle schools and high schools, informing students of both the good and the bad of war. McPherson says that many of the youth that he worked with are now grandparents. He hears from them often, telling him about the things they learned and the enjoyment they had.

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