By Donita Naylor
Journal Staff Writer
EAST PROVIDENCE — Eagle Scout Sebastian Zuleta, 17, of Central Falls, flew to Washington last week and met Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and both U.S. senators from Rhode Island.
He toured the Pentagon, had lunch in the Joint Chiefs of Staff's dining room and met two generals and an admiral.
He visited the Supreme Court, the U.S. Naval Academy and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Zuleta, from Troop 3 Central Falls, was 1 of 10 Scouts from across the nation chosen to deliver the Boy Scouts of America's annual Report to the Nation.
On Friday he reported to the East Providence headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America Narragansett Council to meet a man who had the honor of making the same trip for the same purpose 67 years ago.
James F. McIntyre, 84, of Somerset, Mass., was a 17-year-old Sea Scout from Fall River in 1948 when he took the train to Washington, met 11 other Scouts from across the nation, and delivered their report.
At the White House in 1948, the 12 Scouts stood in the Oval Office and were called one by one to meet President Harry Truman. McIntyre, representing the New England states and the tallest of the bunch, was the first to be called, according to newspaper reports at the time.
McIntyre and his group also met J. Edgar Hoover and toured the FBI, Congress, the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. They took the train to New York to visit the brand-new United Nations headquarters, some of it still being built.
McIntyre, who survived a stroke in recent years and a ship breaking in half while he was in the Navy, said he doesn't remember details about meeting Truman or Hoover, except for the heavy security at the White House. "They don't even trust Scouts," he said.
Upon his return to Fall River, McIntyre got some ribbing, he remembers. "Say hello to Harry for me," classmates in high school would say.
Zuleta, however, was unable to meet Mr. Obama because the president was in Florida.
Both Zuleta and McIntyre brought copies of the reports they delivered. Zuleta's was two pages, in a padded presentation folder. It said there were about 2.3 million Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Venturing and Sea Scouts. The report also said that in 2014, Scouts recorded almost 14.4 million hours of service to their communities.
McIntyre's report, a booklet of typed pages, said it represented 2.14 million members of the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts collected just over 3 million pounds of clothing for overseas, 1.5 million pounds of food for starving people, 781,000 pounds of fat "to meet our government's request" and 66.5 million pounds of wastepaper and scrap "to offset serious shortages" after World War II. They also planted nearly 1.3 million trees, built firebreaks, took part in traffic surveys and aided Community Chest efforts, the report said.
Both Scouts agreed that scouting made them better people, developed their leadership skills and offered career choices.
Zuleta, whose Eagle Scout project was building an urban campground on River Island in Central Falls, wants to be a Navy SEAL sniper. He was inspired by the movie and book "American Sniper."
Zuleta, the son of Luz Carmona, said he hasn't decided whether he will enlist in the Navy after graduating from Central Falls High School this year, or whether he will accept U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's nomination to the U.S. Naval Academy. Chances of becoming a SEAL, which stands for sea, air and land teams, are better for enlisted personnel than for academy graduates, he said he learned at the academy last week.
McIntyre joined the Navy after high school, then spent nearly 30 years as a police officer in Somerset, retiring as a captain. He had to retire early, he said, because of injuries suffered in the Navy, and he has not been able to get full disability compensation because the record of his 1952 injury from electricity aboard the destroyer Hobson went down with the ship just three weeks later. McIntyre was one of 61 who were plucked from the water; 176 shipmates died.
Given what happened to him in the Navy, would McIntyre still advise Zuleta to pursue his Navy dream?
"Yes," the former Sea Scout answered emphatically. He said the camaraderie is hard to explain, but there's nothing like it.
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Photo Cred. Providence Journal