Well, here are the fifth and sixth parts combined (for simplicity’s sake) of an eight-part series on how I survived multiple life-threatening ordeals in my sojourn through life!
Just remember, our Father in Heaven doesn’t take away all the challenges we encounter but can help us through them – unless it’s our time to go home to Him. The challenges we face are what can serve as refining fire if we turn to God in facing those challenges. Scouting posed a lot of small and large challenges, but also a lot of fun experiences.
Being a Scout was a big deal in my youth. Yes, I worked on acquiring merit badges and advancing in rank, but what was most important was the fun times with my friends – mostly the camping and the Mutual nights at the Magna swimming center.
|From Cub Scouts|
|From CuB Scouts|
I do remember going to a couple of day Cub Scout camps and at least one overnighter. Seems I recall the best part of the Cub Scout camps was the rifle range, though the rifles probably fired BBs.
I have in my scrapbook a Cub Scout Graduation Certificate, Cub Pack 344, signed by H. (Heman) C. Sharp in February of 1961. Mr. Sharp lived across the street from us at the time. I grew up with his sons Bruce (who was my age), Ralph and Steve.
After turning 12 on Feb. 27, 1962, I graduated from Primary and entered the world of LDS Scouting.
|My Star, Second Class, First Class badges from Boy Scouts.|
|There's a right way to fold the U.S. flag|
Now it’s very annoying when I see a tattered flag blowing in the breeze or one on the ground or even just touching the ground, and I get peeved when I see one wadded up on a shelf instead of probably folded and stored inside a protective cover. My blood really starts to boil when I see on the news people desecrating the flag. We all need to remember what the 50 stars represent and what the 13 stripes represent, and how many men and women have fought and so many died under that flag to keep us free in this crazy world.
|Explorer Scout camp 1965 in Tooele Canyon with leader|
Kermit, Lee, Kirk Curtis and Merrill Hunt.
During those Scout camps, there were always more high jinx than what I preferred – especially at night before lights out.
|Merrill, left, and others race down Tooele Canyon in front|
of Bryon Johnson's truck that lost rear-end.
Scouting was an adventure, but unfortunately, I never recall the camps being that much of a spiritual experience. I regret that, especially after hearing so many stories about girls’ camps and their testimony meetings.
One year early on in my Scouting era, we were able to go to an expensive camp because our leaders had made arrangements for our troop to be helpers of a troop of handicapped Scouts, most of whom were in wheelchairs. I’m sorry to say that I don’t recall being much help to them. Many of the other troops gave us a bad time, not so much because we were helping the handicapped troop but because we weren’t doing very well in any of the troop competitions. I remember us getting together a relay team, which we felt was our best chance at winning a ribbon. I can’t remember who all were on the
|Wile Coyote found that speed wasn't always the winning way.|
When the race through camp unfolded, everything was working as planned – the first three runners kept us in striking distance of the leaders. Then Lester took the baton and started flying down the trail. It really looked like victory was in our grasp – but then Lester came to a slope in the trail and went airborne. His legs were still churning, and his arms were swinging but he couldn’t keep his balance and crashed head first on the trail. Just a moment before we were cheering – and the next we were groaning. And Lester was pretty torn up – especially his hands. A painful return to earth. “If only he had slowed up to get down the hill,” I remember thinking, “he would have won even if he had slowed down.”
|W. Lee Hunt in Granger 1963 at age 13.|
Though I had a lot of pain before the camp, I went to work and did the best I could.
I remember praying to my Father in Heaven to help me make the long swim and to help me not drown.
I took a lot longer than normal to do the laps, but there was no time limit. During most of the laps, I did the backstroke, my favorite stroke. When they told me I had completed the laps and passed the requirements, I was relieved and actually quite surprised! After conquering the cold water, I went on and earned the canoeing merit badge, which included the requirement to swamp the canoe, then right it, and get back in. After completing the requirements, I was able to do all the canoeing I wanted.
I had a wonderful camp – then everything turned crazy on the way home.
|Generic nature pond|
When I arrived home, Mom and Dad immediately took me to the hospital, and I was admitted for the surgery that was already scheduled for the next day. The doctor was shocked when he got a look inside my shoulder: The left shoulder socket had cracked in half, and the socket had cracked away from my shoulder. My arm basically was just dangling there as I bounced around in the back of the truck all the way home from Scout camp. I don't remember if I was given any medicine on my way home. I don't think so. Everyone couldn't figure how I could hurt my shoulder by just swinging my arm in the air to get the bug off.
The surgeons used several staples to pull all the bones together and then tightened the ligaments to limit how far my shoulder would move inside the socket. The idea was to limit the movement and prevent any more dislocations. The left shoulder never did get back to full strength in comparison to the right shoulder. The worst part in the years after was the left arm’s limited range of movement, then eventually bursitis became another burden. The left shoulder has been prone to slipping out partially -- and it's gotten worse with age and lack of exercise.
|Merrill & Warren Hunt, Gene Openshaw, Stephen & Danny Peterson,|
Bruce Sharp, Dennis Paxton, Lester Mackay, Stan Bawden at HAFB 1964.
One of the first things I was asked to do was to set up an overnighter at Hill Air Force Base. I think I ended up with the task because I suggested the idea (Dad had been working at HAFB for years), and I told them it couldn’t be that hard to arrange. Well, Dad gave me the job. I corresponded through letters with the Base PR office and made the arrangements. During the Christmas break of 1964, Dec. 27-28, we went to the military base and spent a night there in the barracks, watched airmen films, ate chow at the base cafeteria and toured a lot of the base and saw a lot of warplanes. I still have the wood scrapbook that we made of the adventure.
|My patch from 1967 conference.|
|LDS Astronaut Don Lind.|
During one of the assemblies, we listened to a speech by LDS Astronaut Don Lind, born in Midvale, Utah. I’ve remembered that experience my whole life, and it became even more significant when Lind finally NASA flew space missions in 1985.
|Explorer leader, Ralph Sharp, Steve Crump, Bruce Sharp|
Larry Bunkall at Explorer Conference at BYU in 1965.
On Aug. 18-23, 1967, several of us Explorers from our ward and stake attended the LDS Explorer Ensign Leadership Conference at Brigham Young University. We had a great time at both conferences, and I especially enjoyed exploring the campus, where I would later attend college.
The last time I rode, our tube slid up and over the bank of snow! Many of us were able to bail off, but I was on top in the middle of the pile, and I just went flying – straight toward a large two-inch-thick trail sign that was held in place by two four-inch-round posts.
However, my left leg did smack into one of the sign’s support posts – hitting just above and on the front side of my knee, which violently twisted at an awkward angle. I thought for sure I had broken my leg! I was helped back to camp all the while wailing in pain! Sound familiar!?
After some novice testing, we decided my leg probably wasn’t broken but that I had messed something up in the knee. One of the leaders eventually took me home. My parents may have taken me to the doctors, but I didn’t have any surgery. The knee gradually got better, but every once in a while, I would have issues with the knee.
That close call wasn’t the only traumatic experience at a Scout camp. On May 19 and 20 of 1963, Troop 599 of North Jordan Third Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were camping in Mill Creek Canyon. There was still snow on the ground on the north slope of the canyon, but the snow was all melted on the south slope across from camp. We had a fairly large troop, so we divided the in two. One group headed up
I looked up just in time to see this huge rock heading right at me. I froze like a deer in a car’s headlights. Suddenly, an angel by my side pushed me out of the way. The boulder just barely grazed my calf muscle on my left leg and continued its rampage down the slope. Though the muscle immediately went into spasms, I couldn’t help but think that I could have been killed if it hadn’t been for Merrill pushing me out of the way!
Merrill and Gene was helping me down the trail when we started hearing screaming coming from the second group of our troop, which had started up the slope way after us. Merrill and Gene left me to go see what was going on. When they returned, they told me about the horror below.
One of the Scouts, Clair Jensen, 14, had been struck in the head by that same boulder that grazed me. He was killed instantly. Everything became chaos. I was helped down the mountainside past his covered body. Eventually the police arrived, and we packed up and headed home. I heard from Scouts in the second group that Clair was taking a separate trail apart from his group and had told them they should come over and join him because his path was better. He was the only one in that group, which included his younger brother, who ended up in the path of that boulder. The funeral was a very sad and somber experience.
Tragedy for one Scout, a miracle survival for another. Why was Clair taken and not me? I try not to think about it too much, but in the hereafter we’ll better understand.