Troop 103 celebrated its 96th year, (1924 – 2020) this year, as a chartered Boy Scout Scout Troop. Through all of the years helping develop young Scouts into responsible young men, we have a little bit of history to tell. The following is a brief history of the last 50 plus years in the Troop.
An excellent example of the tradition of the Troop is in our Troop Flag. It was presented to the Troop in 1926, just 2 years following the original charter, by then U.S. President Calvin Coolidge. The flag served the Troop well for over 50 years. As the years went by the flag became a bit worn. The flag was retired before the turn of the century and was encased into a suitable frame and is now prominently displayed in the Scout Hallway, downstairs of the Williamsburg United Methodist Church (our current chartered organization).
Charter sponsorship of the Troop changed a few times over the years. Less than a handfull of Scoutmasters had the privilege to lead the Troop between 1924 to 1950. In 1950, when Jimmy Fuller became Scoutmaster, the Troop moved to the Williamsburg United Methodist Church, which sat at the corner of Boundary and Duke of Gloucester Streets and Richmond Road. The Troop met in the church’s Fellowship Hall and were sponsored at the time by the Williamsburg Jaycees until 1984. The Williamsburg United Methodist Church became the new charter sponsor of the Troop in 1984 and remains our sponsor today.
Before Mr. Fuller became the Scoutmaster of the Troop, he was a war hero during WWII. Stationed aboard a liberty ship that was torpedoed during the war, he used his skills as a championship swimmer from Vanderbilt University to survive and to help save three or four fellow seamen, that couldn’t swim that well, when the ship went down. As the ship sank, he managed to escape dressed only in his skivvy shorts and his 45-caliber pistol was the only thing he saved off the ship.
He was the Scoutmaster from 1950 to 1980. There was a one-and-a-half year period, as Scoutmaster that he switched places with the Troop Committee Chairman because he decided he had been Scoutmaster long enough. It didn’t work out, so he became Scoutmaster again. He was really the only Scoutmaster of the Troop for about 28 years but he was with the Troop for 30 years. In 1978, Mr. Fuller became sick due to emphysema and a host of other health problems. During that time, Mr. David L. Nunn became acting Scoutmaster from 1978 until 1980.
Mr. David Nunn became the Scoutmaster in 1980 after Mr. Fuller’s passing. Mr. Nunn would spend the next 24 years building the Troop into one of the finest in the State. During his tenure his accomplishments included the following:
- He was awarded the Silver Beaver, the highest award that may be presented by a local council.
- He was the first Scouter in the Commonwealth of Virginia to receive the George A. Meany Award, a national recognition approved by the AFL-CIO Executive Council.
- He was the first adult in the Troop to receive Vigil Honor from the Order of the Arrow.
- He received the Den Leader’s Award in 1976, earned his Wood Badge Beads in 1977, and received the Boy Scout Training Award in 1979 and the District Award of Merit in 1983 along with the Scouter’s Key Award and finally, he received the God and Service Award in 1994.
- He was awarded the Scoutmaster Award of Merit in 1987. At that time, he was recognized as one of the top 70 Scoutmasters in the country.
Along with the many things he accomplished with the Troop, he was very involved with Scouting at much higher levels. He was a member of the team that helped re-write the new Scout Handbook used during the late 20th century. He was also very involved in several of the National Jamborees during his tenure. His first three Jamborees, he was an Assistant Scoutmaster for the Council Contingent Troop and, in 1997 and 2001, he served as the Scoutmaster. In this capacity, he had approximately 300 people working for him. Mr. Nunn was very involved in the Scouting program and in 2004 was promoted to “Scoutmaster Emeritus” or Scoutmaster for Life of Troop 103. Mr. Nunn still lives in Williamsburg, attends special Troop events, and donates resources to the operation of the Troop to this day.
Back when Mr. Nunn first became an Assistant Scoutmaster under Jimmy Fuller, one of his first tasks was to recruit one of the Troop’s Junior Assistant Scoutmasters into the role of Assistant Scoutmaster when he turned 18 years old. That was how Jimmy Etchberger became one of the Troops adult leaders in 1977 and in 2004, after 27 years as an assistant, Jimmy Etchberger took over as the Scoutmaster of the Troop.
Jimmy Etchberger, having grown up in Williamsburg and having an older brother in the troop, joined Troop 103 in 1971. Following in his brother’s footsteps, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1974. They were the first set of brothers to both earn the rank of Eagle in the Troop. As mentioned above, first working as a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster and then becoming an Assistant Scoutmaster in 1977, Jimmy had already completed all the required adult Scout leader training. Being very involved in the Scouting program, not only with the Troop, but also with the Council and District, Jimmy earned the Silver Beaver Award in 1985. Mr. Etchberger’s services continues to this day as a critical adult leader in the Troop serving as the Assistant Scoutmaster for Camping. Mr. Etchberger lives in the Williamsburg area and is a local business owner in the area.
At the start of the 2008 Scouting year, Dave Coppinger was appointed Scoutmaster of Troop 103. He became only the 4th Scoutmaster to serve in that capacity in the previous 60 years of Troop 103 prior to 2008. Dave Coppinger, himself an Eagle scout, followed his two sons into Troop 103 after having served as Committee Chair and later, Cub Master of Cub Scout Pack 103. Mr. Coppinger was called upon once again to serve as the Scoutmaster on 2016 after the departure of Doug Marty and his family from the Williamsburg area. Mr.Coppinger remains a vital adult leader in the Troop and the council to this day still serving as an Assistant Scoutmaster and senior mentor. Mr. Coppinger also lends his special talents to the Council’s Wood Badge Association during courses every 2 years and is a past Course Director of the Nationally accredited Wood Badge Course. Mr. Coppinger still lives in Williamsburg and is a local business owner.
In June of 2010, Doug Marty was appointed Scoutmaster of Troop 103 and served in this role up until August of 2016. Doug Marty bridged over into the Troop with his son from Cub Scout Pack 103 and also served as Cub Master of the pack for several years. Mr. Marty continued the troop’s tradition of committed leadership to the Scouts and members of Troop 103 during his tenure. Mr. Marty left the Williamsburg area with his wife in August 2016 to pursue a professional employment opportunity in his home state of Minnesota. Mr. Marty still resides in Minnesota but stays in contact on a regular basis with the Leaders and Scouts of Troop 103.
In January 2017, a newcomer to the Troop a few short years before, Don Reeves, was appointed to the position as Scoutmaster of the Troop. Don had served for several years as an Assistant Scoutmaster in the Troop, as well as a WEBELOS Den Leader in Pack 103 during his son’s time as a Cub Scout. Don came to Williamsburg by way of the U.S. Army at Fort Eustis in 2010, where he retired in 2015. Don continues the legacy and traditions of Troop 103, fostered and practiced by those Scoutmasters before him. Through an unbelievable cast of Scout Leaders, Committee Members, and adult volunteers, Don is able to continue to provide a vibrant and traditional Scouting program that respects the founding principles and expectations of Scouting started by Lord Baden-Powell over a hundred years ago. Don earned the District Award of Merit in 2020 for his work with the District as the Roundtable Commissioner. Don is a Williamsburg resident and a civil servant working at Fort Eustis.
Troop 103 has a strong history of Eagle Scouts. The Troop’s first Scout to earn the Eagle Scout rank was Robert “Ross” Cottingham. Mr. Fuller’s first Eagle Scout was Donald Dow in 1952. Under Mr. Fuller, 33 Scouts earned the rank of Eagle. During Mr. Nunn’s tenure, 103 Scouts earned the rank of Eagle. During Mr. Etchberger’s tenure, 29 Scouts earned the rank of Eagle. Under Mr. Coppinger’s two tours as Scoutmaster, 14 Scouts earned their Eagle rank. Under Doug Marty, another 22 Scouts earned their Eagle rank, and under Mr. Reeves’ short tenure thus far, 38 Scouts have earned the rank of Eagle Scout!
We are currently at 266 Eagle Scouts, at the end of 2020, that have passed through the Scouting program in Troop 103 in the past 96 years!!! The best is yet to come!