Troop 719’s Five New Eagle Scouts

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From left: Boy Scout Troop 719 Eagle Scouts Devan Yamashiro, Justin Doi, Grant Arakawa, Isaac Ide and Derek Matsushita.

TORRANCE — Boy Scout Troop 719, sponsored by Faith United Methodist Church in Torrance, has announced its latest Eagle Scouts:

• Devan Keith Taro Yuhki Yamashiro was born on May 4, 1992 in Fukuoka and was adopted a couple of months later by Roger and JoAnn Yamashiro. When he was 4, his parents flew to Japan to bring home his little sister, Alana. He attended Pennekamp Elementary School, Manhattan Beach Middle School, Vistamar School for 9th–11th grade, and received his high school diploma from The Academy at Swift River.

His greatest love and passion is basketball.  He was an active participant in Vistamar School’s frosh/soph and varsity basketball programs and played for Pipeline in the F.O.R. organization for 13 years. An ultimate achievement was being selected for the Yonsei 13 team before his freshman year in high school.

While participating on Yonsei 13, Yamashiro visited Japan and met his birth mother and her family. “ I cannot begin to express this experience … because there are no words for reconnecting with a mother that I had not seen since birth,” he said.

His scouting career began in third grade in Cub Scout Pack 759. He graduated with the highest award, the Arrow of Light, and joined Troop 719 in May 2003. With his patrol leaders as an example, he became responsible for his own patrol, the Funkee Monkees, in 2008. He also served as troop scribe, historian, guide, instructor, APL, and PL

Yamashiro’s Eagle Scout service project was at the South Bay Keiro Nursing Home. To create a more beautiful area for the residents and staff, he met with the Gardena Gardeners Association to plan and decide what to plant and where. He planted a maple tree, prunus trees, star jasmines, and many more colorful plants that the residents can easily see through the windows.

“Obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout was truly a team effort,” said Yamashiro, who thanked his family, his friends, parents inside and outside of Troop 719, Eagle advisor Jerry Takao, and Steve Nakama. “Without all of you I could not have reached this high honor.”

• Justin Heu-Ming Torao Doi was born on Sept. 29, 1992, at Huntington Memorial Hospital in South Pasadena to Ronald and Marion Doi. He has an older sister, Trisha, who has served as both his role model and competitor to me. After 18 years of life we have almost mastered our differences, and overall I couldn’t wish for a better sister,” he said.

Doi attended 156th and Lincoln elementary schools and Casimir Middle School. He is currently a senior at North High School and hopes to attend his dream school, USC, like his father, mother, sister, uncles and grandmother. His grandfather graduated from the “other” school. “As I am the last grandchild, my grandfather will soon officially be the lone Bruin in the Trojan pack,” he said.

His scouting career began in Cub Scout Pack 862 (Den 1), sponsored by Faith United Methodist Church. He was one of the original members and today the pack remains strong. He bridged over to Troop 683 in 2003. After taking a short break from scouting and with his grandparents’ and uncle’s encouragement, he joined Troop 719 in 2005 to follow in his father’s footsteps and embarked on the journey of a lifetime.

His grandmother, May Doi, rechartered the Troop 719 in 1961 and was den mother for many years. His grandfather, Carl Doi, served as scoutmaster for several years. His father became the troop’s second Eagle Scout in 1965, followed by his Uncle Kevin (eighth) in 1969 and Uncle Conrad (ninth) in 1970.

“My family created a legacy, and at the young age of 10, I accepted my fate,” said Doi. “It was my destiny to become an Eagle Scout. I am Eagle Scout No. 156 of Troop 719, and I take pride in saying the legacy lives on.”

With the help of over 100 participants, including scouts, alumni and troop family members, his Eagle project — constructing an ice machine push cart, a Hot Wheels track and Fire House carnival games, and the modifications to the Matsuri stage — will benefit the church for many years to come. With the support of the troop, Eagle advisor Gary Kurashige and project advisor Jerry Tondo, the project was successfully completed on June 12, 2010.

• Isaac Ide was born on May 18, 1994 in Torrance to Yoshihiro and Yuki Ide. He attended Jefferson Elementary School and Parras Middle School, and is now a junior at Redondo Union High School. He is planning on attending a four-year university close to home. He has a sister, Alisa, who is 13 years old.

Sports have always been a big part of his life. He played soccer in elementary school for the AYSO in north Redondo Beach. During this time he also participated in Redondo Little League Baseball for six years. For the past five years, he has picked up basketball and played for the frosh/soph team at Redondo Union his freshman and sophomore year. He continues to play basketball with his FOR Impact team.

Ide is currently on the Redondo track and field team, where he does the long jump and pole vault. At school, he is the president for a Christian club called Awaken, where students come together to share the love of Christ.

He began his scouting career in 2005 when he joined Troop 719. His first patrol was the Ace of Spades under patrol leader Matt Kubota. He continued with the Toadstools, Bruins, and Ninja Spartans, then served as the patrol leader for the Shoyu Patrol. One of the most valuable things that scouting has provided for him is the influence of leaders and role models. Without the guidance of assistants and patrol leaders, he would not be the person and scout he is today.

The leadership required for patrol leader has challenged him greatly. He feels that the experience has helped him discover his strengths and weaknesses. The year of leading a patrol gave him the confidence to step up as senior patrol leader the following year. Again, this position was a challenge, but the prior experience enabled him to lead the troop with dedication and perseverance. The leadership positions have played a major role in shaping him into a better leader.

For his Eagle Project, Ide decided to give back to the Keiro Nursing Home in Gardena. In respect to the past generations of Japanese Americans, he wanted to enhance their lifestyle at Keiro. With the assistance of advisor Dr. Roger Yamashiro, administrator Howard Hiyoshida, Troop 719, the Mothers’ Club, and friends and family, he led the construction of a storage shed and installation of rain gutters along the back of the facility. Although the project took an unexpected 10 hours, it was completed on Sept. 11, 2010. The improvements have given Keiro a safe place to store equipment during the rainy season and prevent any water hazards from occurring, allowing employees to serve residents in a safer environment.

Scouting has blessed him with many important life experiences that will continue to shape him into an adult. The challenges and responsibilities have grown him into the person he is today and will continue to do so in the future. Ide wishes for the younger scouts to make the most of this valuable opportunity and never take it for granted. He is deeply grateful for the support of his troop, friends and family, who have guided and inspired him to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

• Derek Yoshinobu Matsushita was born on July 14, 1993 to James and Patsy Matsushita.  Derek is the youngest of three children.  He has an older sister, Erin, and an older brother, Keith, who also was a Troop 719 scout.

Matsushita attended Arlington Elementary School, moved on to Casimir Middle School, and is currently a senior at North High School. At North High, he has been active in various sports, including cross country, track and swimming. In his earlier years, he played baseball in the Sansei League, and he has been playing basketball within the South Bay F.O.R. since age 6.  Besides scouting and hiking, some of the activities that he enjoys are basketball, boogie-boarding, video and computer gaming, fishing, and listening to music. He has also developed quite an interest in cooking.

He began his scouting career with Troop 719 in October 2004 to follow in the footsteps of his brother, as well as close family friends Scott and Robbie Kaneko. Throughout his years with the troop, he has had many experiences that many boys never get — exploring the islands of Kauai and Maui, kayaking, rock-climbing, river rafting, and observing first-hand the beauty of Yosemite and the Sierras.

In 2008, Matsushita became patrol leader of the Mooninites, an experience that is very special to him. He had a great time leading younger scouts and it was important for him to find ways to balance fun with the work that needed to be done. His former patrol leaders, Beau Takagi, Brandon Nakashima, Jordan Chong and Greg Mizukami, taught him the skills he needed to become a good patrol leader.

Being in Troop 719 has given him many opportunities to learn leadership skills by serving in the positions of historian, quartermaster, assistant patrol leader, patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, and currently senior patrol leader. Hiking with the troop has definitely given him the chance to challenge himself and to help his fellow scouts during their hiking experiences. He was very proud to be chosen as “Hiker of the Year” for 2009 and 2010.

All these years of scouting laid the groundwork for the most challenging part of his path to Eagle — his service and leadership project. With the help and support of his advisor, Jerry Tondo, Matsushita was able to benefit two groups, the South Bay F.O.R. Jr. Sports Association and JCI Gardens.

Through the generosity of the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute, he built a much-needed storage shed and shelving for the South Bay F.O.R. This shed can now house all the equipment for F.O.R.’s basketball, golf and volleyball programs for youth. JCI Gardens provides housing for low-income seniors. His project there involved laying pavers in a previously unused dirt portion of the outdoor area. JCI Gardens now has a much more usable and attractive patio area for the residents to enjoy their Japanese garden. He directed 70 scouts, fathers, other family members and friends to accomplish these projects.

Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout takes years of commitment, dedication and leadership, and his road to Eagle has helped him become stronger, both physically and mentally. He has gained many life-long friendships and wonderful memories along the way. He knows that he could not have done this alone and would like to thank his fellow scouts, hiking parents, Scoutmaster Corps and Mothers’ Club for making his Boy Scout experience so full of friendship, adventure, good fun and great food. Lastly, he is very grateful for the never-ending support and encouragement from his entire family.

• Grant Keahi Arakawa was born to Hiroshi and Alison Arakawa on July 8, 1995, in Santa Clarita. The family moved to Hawaii when he was 6 months old. He attended Kahala Elementary until the fifth grade (2005), then moved to Torrance. He attended Anza Elementary School and Bert Lynn Middle School, and is currently a sophomore at West Torrance High School. He is challenging himself with a tough curriculum in hopes of getting into a good university. He has a younger sister, Rachel, who is 7 years old.

In addition to Boy Scouts and school, Arakawa is active in sports and service clubs. He has played soccer, karate and basketball. He won one of 50 national scholarships in 2005 to Space Camp in Alabama. He participated in the Yonsei XVI basketball tour to Kochi and Sakawa on a cultural home-stay program. He is active on the board of the Japanese Club and an active member for Freshman Focus and Key Club at West High.

He was a Cub Scout in Aina Haina Elementary Pack 115 and completed his Senior Webelo year with Anza Elementary Pack 996. Since bridging to Troop 719 in March 2006, he has been a part of the Toadstools, Lost, Transformers and Mooninites patrols and served as patrol leader of the Grantaloupes and Wadamelons. He continues to enjoy scouting, mostly because of the friends he has made and the willingness of his patrol to work together and succeed. Every challenge became a learning experience as he recognized the qualities it takes to be a responsible leader.

Music has always been a part of his life. He has played the alto saxophone since he was 8 and recently switched to the tenor saxophone. He currently plays for West High’s marching and jazz bands. The connection between music and learning made West Band the logical choice for his Eagle project; he chose to help the band because the Banim family (James, Vince and Katie) has been instrumental in the West High area and in his individual music development.

With the help of advisors Jim Matsushita and Jerry Tondo, Troop 719 scouts, families and friends, Arakawa’s project on Oct. 13, 2010 to build sousaphone carts and organize the band room was a success. This project has optimized the smooth operation of the entertainment unit for band competitions and performances throughout the year.

The path to Torrance five years ago changed his life for the better. Troop 719 eased his transition into a new community during a critical point in his youth by making him feel a part of a group. Throughout his scouting career, the troop has provided many valuable life experiences that will help him to become a more responsible and well-prepared adult. He expresses sincere gratitude to Troop 719 and his family and friends for their encouragement and support during this memorable road to Eagle.

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