ScoutingNovember-December 2000

A Good Turn Revisited

Illustration by Richard Sparks

Illustration by Richard Sparks
Ryan and John Kossuch

A Good Turn always comes back to the doer.

If you doubt it, let us tell you about John Kossuch, a longtime volunteer Scouter. John was just 11 when, on a snowy afternoon in January 1959, he saved a life near Algonac, Michigan. It happened when the Scout, without a moment's hesitation, pushed a schoolmate out of the path of a wildly careening car. Both boys sustained broken bones.

John's heroic action had at least three consequences. First, a child's life was saved. Second, John merited a certificate for heroism from the BSA's National Court of Honor. Third, his story was told in 1960 in Boys' Life's "A True Story of Scouts in Action."

But we think there was a fourth result—only 40 years to the month later.

January 3, 1999, was frigidly cold in Michigan. John Kossuch, now 51 and an assistant Scoutmaster, along with Eagle Scout son Ryan, 19, had been shoveling deep snow out of their driveway. Feeling cold and suddenly tired, John went inside for coffee. But he wasn't just tired. When his wife, Dorothy, found him a bit later, he was unconscious and, soon, not breathing. Mrs. Kossuch dialed 911 and called out for Ryan.

Ryan had many hours of CPR training and various lifesaving-related merit badges—earned alongside his then-Scoutmaster dad in Rochester Hill's Troop 60. The Eagle Scout called to a neighbor for help, then instructed him on how to assist in performing CPR on his dad. As John went into full cardiac arrest, Ryan calmly continued the chest compressions while counting, telling the neighbor when to administer breaths.

The paramedics soon arrived and took over treatment. They delivered a lifesaving electrical shock to John's heart, then rushed him to the hospital, where he had immediate surgery to open a blocked artery. It was days before John came out of the haze generated by the trauma and learned that Ryan had saved his life.

For his skilled lifesaving act, Ryan received the BSA's Heroism Award in May 1999.

Like father, like son. And like we said, a Good Turn always comes back to the doer.

At this joyous time of the year, when it's natural for people to be caring and thinking of others, we salute all of you in the Scouting family for inspiring, training, and preparing the youth of America to help other people at all times.

May the upcoming holidays be filled with happiness and health for you and yours, and may your new year brim with the good things that good Scouting brings.

Milton H. Ward Roy L. Williams
Milton H. Ward
Roy L. Williams
Chief Scout Executive

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