Staff photo by Jenna Walker/Chattanooga Times Free Press Aidan Terry, serving on a Boy Scout color guard, stands with his peers at the start of the Friends of Scouting luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center. The annual luncheon provides past members and supporters of the troops the opportunity to donate to the Boy Scouts.
Retired Special Operations Cmdr. Gregory Stube wishes he had been a Boy Scout.
Taking machine gun fire while dragging his injured body and carrying his dismembered foot during an Afghan firefight in 2006, the Green Beret relied on the skills and discipline he learned in four years of Special Forces training -- skills he wishes he had learned earlier in life.
"The life skills that (Boy Scouts) get, the leadership and development, let me tell you what an advantage that is," he said Wednesday to 580 former Scouts and organization supporters at the area's seventh annual Friends of Scouting luncheon.
The luncheon raises about 55 percent of the organization's yearly funds. This year it raised $250,377, about $16,000 more than last year.
"This is what I pictured when I had to decide whether my sacrifice and service were worth it," Stube said. "I'm sitting in a room that's part of the solution and not part of the problem."
After about a year and a half in a military hospital, Stube is walking again -- his foot was surgically reattached -- though he was unable to return to combat. Now he's a strong supporter of the Scouts because of the important lessons the organization teaches, he said.
To volunteer, join, or donate to local the Boy Scouts, visit their website at www.CherokeeAreaBSA.com or call 423-892-8323
"I was really tested, and I want to tell you, this kind of commitment to good things is what makes it worthwhile to me today," he said. "Everything I prepared for physically and tactically was not what it takes to get us through, because spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, I was unprepared for what would happen."
Stube said local Scouts such as Josh Williams are lucky. The 17-year-old Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve, has been with the organization for 11 years and said it's one of the most valuable experiences he's had.
"You get out there and experience life," Williams said. "It prepares you to be better citizens, better people."