THREE BROTHERS, ONE FAMILY LEGACY: Sitting down with Eric Hanson
This year, Eric joined his brothers, Greg and Dave, to become the third Eagle Scout from the Hanson family. When 17-year-old Eric Hanson recently received his Eagle Scout-status, the Hanson family joined the Ignani’s to become the only two families in Kingston with three Eagle Scout brothers.
Last month, Eric stood center stage as Selectman Dick Arruda handed him a plaque to commemorate his feat, along with his service to Kingston.
But the euphoria of the moment Eric experienced at last month’s selectmen meeting, like the Eagle patch that he now pins on his uniform, was seeded in the darkness that Eric’s family had been through.
“May of 2010”
Eric’s oldest brother, Dave, was a personal friend of this writer.
I had been in scouts with Dave for years. He was the next oldest boy in Troop 4480 to me and, when I became Senior Patrol Leader, Dave was the troop’s natural choice to serve as Assistant Senior Patrol Leader.
When I was scrambling to finish my Eagle Project before a fast-approaching deadline, Dave was the one scout who always arrived to help. Snow, rain, below zero temperatures…it didn’t matter.
Dave would be there.
I wouldn’t have finished my project without him. I wouldn’t be able to call myself an Eagle Scout today without him.
So, when Dave began assisting the restoration of the Surprise Hose House the next year, I tried to return the favor.
I showed up to Dave’s Eagle Project a few times but, with my new college life in Western New York State, it was hard to help Dave the way he helped me.
It was a favor I’d never be able to repay.
A year later, at 19, Dave was dead.
The same taste for adventure that made Dave such a great boy scout probably convinced him into the fatal decision to go on a late-night boat ride with a friend in Plymouth Harbor during May of 2010.
Shortly after setting off from Kingston Harbor, the 15-foot boat carrying Dave and his best friend Wayne began taking on water and sank.
At 11:22pm on May 12, 2010, Wayne and Dave sent out a distress call received by the US Coast Guard.
Almost two-and-a-half hours later, the Coast Guard found Wayne clutching to a buoy two miles out to sea.
A half hour later, the Coast Guard pulled Dave out of the 46-degree Atlantic Ocean as he battled hypothermia and water-filled lungs.
The battle was one Dave would not win.
“MY BROTHER WOULD BE PROUD”
Dave never got to see his two younger brothers follow in his footsteps, but Eric believes Dave would be happy to hear what his brothers have accomplished.
“I think my brother would be proud of me and Greg for everything we’ve worked for,” Eric said as he sat at his dining room table in his family’s Copper Beech Drive home.
Leaving scouts was never an option Eric considered, “my brothers always influenced me to live by the Scout Law and there was never a moment I wanted to leave.”
“Plus,” Eric continued, “The Ignani boys would probably beat me up.”
This summer, Eric turned heads when he raised enough money to build a gazebo on Bates Pond behind Kingston’s Senior Center for his Eagle project.
By holding bake sales and working the local business circuit for donations, Eric raised over $6,000 this year to purchase the gazebo.
Now in his last year at Silver Lake Regional High School, Eric is looking beyond grammar school and has his sights set on the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to pursue a future in marine engineering.
“I want to work on ships. That is something I’d like to do,” Eric said casually, as he pondered his future.
When Eric continues his education next year he will join his older brother Greg in the halls of American academia.
Greg is a student, and a football player, at Western New England University. Eric, like his brother, plays football and hockey but expects his athletic career to subside when he attends MMA.
THE LAST QUESTION
As I sat down with Eric, a fellow Eagle Scout myself, there was one question I really wanted to ask him.
There’s one last thing all scout leaders tell you before pinning the Eagle badge on your uniform: Being an Eagle Scout means giving back to scouting more than scouting has given to you.
I asked Eric how he planned to give back to scouting.
Eric sat back in his chair and promptly followed the first tenant of the Scout Law: a scout is trustworthy.
“I don’t think I can answer that yet,” Eric said. After pausing, he continued, “Just because I don’t know yet.”
I told Eric I was impressed with his honesty, because at 17…I probably would have given an answer I didn’t understand.
“I can tell you that scouts has taught me great life lessons already,” Eric added.
If what Eric has already given back to his community is any indication, he will eventually answer my last question through his actions and not in an interview with a reporter.
But, one thing is sure.
Just as the gazebo at the Kingston Senior Center will sit proudly on the iconic shoreline of Bates Pond for years and years to come, the legacy set by Eric, Dave and Greg will endure well into the future.
Both in Kingston and in scouting.