Eagle-eyed Scout betters military show

By Susan Tuz

Patrick Mott is a volunteer at The Military Museum of Southern New England in Danbury.
The News-Times/Wendy Carlson

Patrick Mott is a volunteer at The Military Museum of Southern New England in Danbury.

On Nov. 10, eight months of work will come to fruition for 16-year-old Patrick Mott.

That is the day he will oversee "Open Turret Day” at The Military Museum of Southern New England on Park Avenue in Danbury. And he will introduce a series of games he has created to help children visiting the museum learn about the wars that have been fought to preserve their freedom.

"It was my interest in history that brought me into this,” said Patrick, who undertook the project to earn the Boy Scout rank of Eagle Scout. "I wanted to honor our veterans and instill an appreciation of what they all did to preserve our freedom in the children who come here. I want future generations to remember the sacrifices that previous generations have made.”

Patrick chose Veterans’ Day weekend to introduce the games and give the tours to "honor our veterans.” Both of his grandfathers served in the armed forces and were involved in World War II. He was thinking of them when he began this project.

The games he created range from a scavenger hunt that older children can make as they move through the museum’s exhibits to connect-the-dots pictures for young children. There are word searches and crossword puzzles that have even given adults cause to pause.

"I wanted to make the learning process fun,” Patrick said.

The Ridgefield High School junior spent the summer giving tours at the museum and is extremely knowledgeable about the exhibits and the historic facts behind them.

One panoramic display of an armored car has crated stuffed chickens in it strapped to the car. It is something that often catches the attention of young visitors to the museum.

"Chickens were used as diversions during WW II,” Patrick explained last week as he gave this reporter a tour of the museum. "Troops would occupy one side of a town and set up the chickens in another part of the town. When the enemy came in, they’d be lulled into a false sense that everything must be all right since livestock was still around. Then the U.S. troops could surround and overcome them.”

On Nov. 10, Patrick will be joined by 10 volunteers he picked to provide safety watch as young visitors are allowed to climb on the tanks and other mechanized armored vehicles outside. Three of the volunteers have been trained by him to give tours. Others will hand out the games. The day has been planned by Patrick down to the tiniest detail.

Along with creating games and writing a tour guide for his volunteers to learn, Patrick has taken a thick, bindered guide to the outside exhibits and created a shortened version with two sentences about each vehicle. That version is on a double-sided piece of paper. He is placing the shortened guide on a computer disc so it can be added to and printed as copies are needed in the future.

To attain the rank of Eagle Scout, Patrick has gone through a lengthy process. His final project has to leave a lasting effect on the institution that he chose to work with. And what better choice could he make than to leave the gift of knowledge?

"I always wanted to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout,” Patrick said. "I looked at these kids who were Eagle Scouts and realized the character that they had. I knew I wanted to be affiliated with that kind of people — people who can get things done.”

With another year of high school ahead of him, Patrick is already thinking about the future when he will go to college. At this time, he’s not sure if he will join the ROTC. A military career may be in his future or might not. One thing is certain: a continued study of history will be.

Open Turret Day will take place from noon to 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 at The Military Museum of Southern New England, 125 Park Ave., Danbury. For further information or directions, call the museum at (203) 790-9277.


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