Michigan Legionnaire and son earn Boy Scouts heroism awards

An American Legion post commander in Michigan has been awarded the Boy Scouts of America’s highest national award for heroism and bravery.

Steven D. Monaghan, commander of Beasley-Zalesny Post 112 in Plymouth, Mich., received the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms for actions he took to save the life of an elderly woman who was swarmed by yellow jackets in front of her home. Monaghan is also cubmaster for Cub Scout Pack 781 of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Plymouth.

While tending to morning errands, Monaghan heard screams nearby and found Beth Walsh unable to move, screaming in pain and pleading for help. Walsh told Monaghan she was allergic to bee stings. He called 911, found a can of wasp spray inside the woman’s home and doused the yellow jackets with it. He then rushed back to the house, got a blanket, and began to swat the bees – they quickly turned on Monaghan.

Police and emergency crews soon arrived and rushed Walsh to a local hospital. Monaghan complained to firemen that he was short of breath, experiencing chest pain and dizziness. He soon collapsed. He too was rushed to the hospital.

Hospital officials counted more than 100 stings on Walsh’s body and removed more than 30 stingers; she spent five days as an inpatient. Medical staff said if it were not for the quick response by Monaghan and Walsh’s neighbor, Roger Anderson, the bee attack could have been fatal.

During his efforts to thwart the bees, Monaghan received more than 30 stings on his neck. Due to the location of the stings, medical staff said that without prompt medical care for Monaghan, his attack, too, could have been fatal.

Monaghan attributes his quick response to his many leadership roles and his military service. He also credits his Boy Scouts first-aid training.

On average, fewer than three Honor Medals with Crossed Palms are awarded nationally each year, with one being awarded to an adult leader. Since 1938, fewer than 200 of these medals have been awarded.

Monaghan’s 11-year-old son, Ethan, was recently given the Boy Scouts of America Heroism Award for Lifesaving by rescuing his younger brother from drowning. The father-son award combination is the first ever in the 100-year history of Scouting in the state of Michigan.