Past National Commander James Koutz accepted a $3,906 donation to Operation Comfort Warriors from Boy Scout Troop 729 from Speedway, Ind., on Tuesday night. (Photo by Holly Soria)

Scout troop’s OCW gift worth more than dollars

Last week, Boy Scout Troop 729 of Speedway, Ind., arranged a car show that brought around 130 cars to local Speedway Post 500. The participating cars rolled into the post’s parking lot, which features the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a backdrop, already knowing the winner of the competition: Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW).

The Scouts from Troop 729 organized the entire event, held raffles, parked cars and cleaned up afterward. Then, they donated the $3,906 that the event raised to OCW as a show of support for the Legion’s flagship wounded-warrior support program.

“Boy Scout Troop 729 here in Indianapolis worked very hard to have this car show at Post 500,” said Past National Commander James Koutz, who accepted the donation from Troop 729 at Legion National Headquarters on Tuesday night. “They raised $3,906 at this car show, and they found out what Operation Comfort Warriors was in the process. That’s great that they are doing this.”

The idea to organize a car show to benefit OCW came from Post 500’s involvement in the program. The project also paid tribute to Zachary Nordmeyer, a Speedway local who was killed in Iraq when his patrol came under small-arms fire from insurgents in 2009. Nordmeyer was the nephew of a former Troop 729 Scout master, and many of the Scouts sent him and other deployed soldiers care packages when they were Cub Scouts several years ago.

Nordmeyer’s sacrifice is memorialized with a plaque in front of Post 500.

“A lot of the boys that are in the troop have been involved since they were 8, 9 or 10 years old and actually sent care packages to Zach Nordmeyer and other soldiers in Iraq,” said David Reynolds, Scoutmaster of Troop 729.

Scouts from Troop 729 officially presented the donation to OCW on Tuesday night in a ceremony at Legion National Headquarters. Koutz was on hand, along with other members of national Legion staff, as the Scouts received a tour of the Legion building and learned about the organization.

Raising money for OCW was a personal project of Koutz’s during his tenure as national commander from 2012-2013. Koutz said the amount of money raised for OCW now exceeds $1.25 million, far eclipsing his original goal of $500,000 set when he took over as leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization in August 2012.

Every dollar of every donation pledged to OCW goes to benefit the program, which gives “comfort items” like iPads, Blu-ray players and rehabilitative exercise equipment to injured servicemembers. The Legion pays all administrative and associated costs that the program incurs.

Koutz said the fact that the donation comes from young people makes it even more special.

“That means a lot that kids from this age group want to work hard for something like Operation Comfort Warriors,” Koutz said. “That means something. That means we’ve got some patriotism still left in us.”

Reynolds said he’s always pleased to see young people take interest in the right things – especially projects like OCW.

“It’s good to see them involved in something other than things they shouldn’t be involved in,” he said. “Our troop is basically an inner-city troop ... so it’s nice to see the kids involved in something, especially something like OCW that is such a good cause, rather than out running around doing things they shouldn’t be doing.”