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Local Scout To Receive 'Honor Medal' For Saving Another's Life

Nathan Henneberg-Verity of Norcross will be awarded the prestigious award for saving the life of a fellow scout. He was assisted by three Peachtree Corners scouts who helped pull several scouts to safety when their canoe tipped in a swift moving current

Submitted by Kevin Dunn

(It took six months of reviews, interviews and paperwork for this scout to be awarded this high honor. Kevin Dunn has been one of Nathan’s scout leaders for the past 13 years and was his scoutmaster for four years.)

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Boy Scout Troop 26, chartered by Christ Church Episcopal in the city of Norcross, Ga. was honored this week as one of their scouts, Nathan Henneberg-Verity, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout, was awarded scouting’s national award, The Honor Medal. The award is presented to scouts who have, “demonstrated unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life at considerable risk to self.

Nathan will be presented the Honor Medal on Feb. 24, during the 10:30 a.m. Scout Sunday church service for his troop, at Christ Church Episcopal, 400 Holcomb Bridge Road, in Norcross. Visitors are welcome to attend.

Nathan, the son of Don Verity and Beate Henneberg, receives the award after rescuing a fellow scout who was cut off from safety when their canoe tipped over close to the head of a waterfall last summer. 

The six scouts were four days into their early summer, 100 mile trek up the “Falls Chain” in Quetico, Canada.  After successfully portaging up and around this large waterfall, the crew set off paddling again in the finger end of the next lake, however, due to a late snow melt, the lake water levels were much higher than normal creating a lake-top hydraulic. 

Though they paddled forward, their canoes went backward.

“As we turned back for shore,” explained Nathan, “our canoe flipped putting us and all of our gear out into the lake. The current was too strong to swim against and we were being pulled back toward the waterfall.”

The crew estimates that they were floating at about four feet per second back toward the waterfall. 

“There was a small island (maybe 15 feet wide) between us and the falls that the guide and I were able to reach but the way the water was spinning us, the water-filled canoe had spun between John and the island and he couldn’t make it.”

At the speed his friend was floating by, Nathan, also a certified Lifeguard had about four seconds to act before his friend would have floated past the island that he was now standing on.

Jumping back into the swift water, Nathan pulled the 15-year-old back over the canoe and grabbed a root sticking out from the small island, then assisted by their guide who was also now on the island, the two were able to get out of the water and they watched as their canoe and gear (including the satellite radio) fell from site over the waterfall.

An honorable note goes to the three-man crew of the second canoe, Trent Martin, Will Thomas and Lou Martin, all residents of Peachtree Corners whose canoe also flipped over during their attempt to get back to shore but they were close enough to shore to swim out when they flipped. 

Using a rope from their gear, the three tied off a rescue line and pulled the cold stranded paddlers back to shore. This area of Canada is so remote that it is not uncommon to not see another boat for the entire 10 day trek.

The Honor Medal was first awarded in 1923.  Over the past 90 years, only 2,354 have ever been awarded – only 52 for all of 2012 across the United States.  Compared to the 1.7 million boys that have earned the rank of Eagle since 1912, the Honor Medal is a rare and very high honor.

The Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America joins Troop 26 in a salute to Nathan for his great achievement!

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Dave February 21, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Well done!

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