What does it take to earn the Boy Scouts of America’s Honor Medal? Scout John “Jack” McClain of the Greater St. Louis Area Council knows.
The Honor Medal is earned by youth or adult leaders who have demonstrated unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save a life at considerable risk to self. One of the fewer than 100 annual recipients of this prestigious award, McClain was bestowed the medal this week for saving the life of a girl who was drowning last summer.
On May 14, 2014, Jack and a friend were swimming in the creek at the Huzzah Valley Campground, where water levels were high and current strong. While Jack was swimming, he saw a young girl attempt to cross the creek carrying a lawn chair. The current caught the chair, dragging the girl into deeper water. As the girl struggled to keep her head above water, she called for help. Luckily, the right ears heard her.
Jack was able to grab the girl’s hand, swim to where he could stand, and pull her toward the shore. There, he and his friend helped her get out of the water.
The young hero credits the lifesaving and first aid training he received through the Boy Scouts for his ability to act quickly and remain calm in a dangerous situation. He has also earned the swimming merit badge which he believes aided him in rescuing the girl.
“I try to live the Scout Oath and Law every day,” said Jack, a freshman at De Smet Jesuit High School. “Scouting has taught me a lot of valuable skills. I feel like I am a better person and I know how to do the right things thanks to the values that Scouting and my parents have taught me.”