Those who have recently passed by Valley Stream American Legion Post 854 may notice that a new project is under way. Isaiah Coombs, of Boy Scout Troop 109, is leading a refurbishment of the Andrew Fatscher memorial monument outside the post to help ensure the community remembers the fallen soldiers that it memorializes.
Isaiah, who has been with Troop 109 since first grade, is a rising sophomore at Valley Stream South High School. He undertook the endeavor as his Eagle Scout project. One requirement of becoming an Eagle Scout — the Boy Scouts’ highest rank — is managing a project to benefit the community. Although Isaiah initially thought he would build a hand-sanitizing station outside the American Legion in response to Covid-19, he ultimately saw a greater need in the community to restore the memorial.
While the American Legion had planned to pressure-wash the bricks this year, Isaiah decided to take the project a step further and reset the bricks in the memorial at an angle, according to Jose Santana, a vice commander with the organization and an Army veteran. This way, people who visit the memorial can better see the names of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“The serving of the community — that’s the most important part,” Santana said. “. . . That’s what we do at the American Legion . . . We continue to serve our community, and it’s something that the Boy Scouts also are showing that they’re doing. They’re also contributing and giving back to the community with nothing in return. We’re not asking for anything from anyone. We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”
Isaiah has worked on the project with his father, Jose Coombs, over the last several weeks. He also organized a group of volunteers from his scout troop to help, as well as the National Junior Honor Society at Valley Stream South High School, which he is also a member of. Isaiah said he expected to finish the project after July 5.
“I’m extremely proud,” Coombs said of his son’s efforts. “ . . . He saw a need, and he was looking to fulfill the need. . . The memorial was kind of getting lost as people pass by. So what we’re hoping is this brings attention back to the memorial and have people stop, think and pay their respects to fallen soldiers or anyone who has fallen in line of service.”
Isaiah noted he has a strong connection with the American Legion, not only because it is in his community, but also because he has attended many events there and has veterans in his family. Isaiah, his troop’s senior patrol leader who is currently a Life Scout, explained that the project has also helped to hone his leadership skills.
To carry out the project, Isaiah contacted contractors and suppliers, and worked to obtain donations of stones, brick, and other supplies. He also organized a fundraiser at Glo Golf at the Roosevelt Field Mall to purchase materials, raising $1,500 in total.
“I’ve learned a lot through this. I’ve learned to become more of an adult,” Isaiah said. “When you become an Eagle or when you’re starting to do your project, you learn a sense of things in more of an adult perspective because the adults are not doing it anymore. It’s you — you have to do it.”