Boy Scout constructs memorial at Triangle Chapel to honor fallen

  • Published
  • By Susan Griggs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Kolbe Conger's Eagle Scout project, which honors his cousin who died in Iraq, provides a peaceful place for prayer and reflection outside Triangle Chapel.

The memorial, constructed of pavestones, features two benches edged by a small garden. It was dedicated to fallen service members over the Memorial Day weekend by Chaplain (Maj.) Mitch Zygadlo.

Kolbe, 13, is the oldest of Lt. Col. (Dr.) Nick and Alicia Conger's five children. His father is chief of infectious diseases at the 81st Medical Group Hospital. The eighth grader is homeschooled by his mother at their Biloxi home.

"History and government are my favorite subjects," said Kolbe, who'd like to pursue a career in law or politics."I've always liked learning about what our service members have done throughout history."

During the four years the Conger family lived in Ramstein Air Base, Germany, before moving to Keesler last year, the family visited many graves of fallen military members who never came home.

"It had a big impact on me and my appreciation for their sacrifice," Kolbe explained. "I never thought I'd feel the sorrow that comes with knowing a fallen soldier, but in 2008, my cousin, Army Sgt. Christopher Sanders, was killed in action in Iraq. My gratitude for his bravery and for all Soldiers was deepened. I wanted to create a memorial to remember him and all service members who've fought to protect our freedom and safety."

Kolbe held bake sales at the hospital to pay for the supplies for the project.

"I met many prior scouts while working," he pointed out. Members and leaders from Boy Scout Troop 250 in Biloxi worked with him on the memorial. About 75 percent of its members are from military families.

"My assistant scoutmaster, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Don Cook, was a really big help," Kolbe pointed out. "He's an architect and engineer and taught me a lot about how to plan and carry out this project. I also got a lot of help from my parents, our scoutmaster, Charles Uren Sr.; my assistant scoutmaster, Charles Uren Jr., and two family friends, Lt. Col. (Dr.) Michael Forgione and Capt. (Dr.) Pete Blatz.

Not only did the project teach Kolbe how to work with pavestones, he "learned how important it is to be organized, the value of teamwork and a lot about business management."