From left: Treyson Mashita, Jeffrey Newton, Nicholas Uyeki, Jonathan Nakamoto, Seiji Yamaguchi and Riley Udagawa. (Photo by Matthew Beard)

BSA Troop 764 formally honored six of its members who earned scouting’s highest rank advancement.

Recognized for achieving Eagle Scout were Jonathan Kalei Nakamoto, Jeffrey T. Newton, Treyson Mashita, Riley Ryosei Udagawa, Nicholas Kazuaki Uyeki and Seiji Jake Yamaguchi. They were, respectively, the troop’s 182nd, 179th, 181st, 176th, 183rd and 178th scouts to be promoted to Eagle Scout.

The recognition took place on Aug. 28 at the troop’s annual Eagle Court of Honor. Due to safety protocols imposed by the pandemic, the Eagle Court of Honor — which is usually held live and in-person during May at the troop’s Venice Japanese Community Center home — was prerecorded and shared virtually via Zoom.

Because of the pandemic, it was second consecutive time the Eagle Court of Honor was held in August and presented in a virtual manner. The troop’s first virtual Court of Honor took place on Aug. 9, 2020.

The 2021 Eagle Court of Honor was troop’s first since 2012 without the leadership of Mark Morimoto. He retired from the position of scoutmaster in 2020. He was associated with the troop for 17 years, during which time his three sons, Ryan, Brett and Jared, all achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

Another member of Troop 764 who also earned scouting’s highest rank contemporaneously to this convocation of Eagles but did not participate in the Aug. 28 ceremony was Joshua Beckstead, the troop’s 177th Eagle Scout. The son of Tomoé andKeith Beckstead, he also graduated from Culver City High School and is attending UC San Diego, where he is studying chemistry.

Serving as the master of ceremonies was Troop 764 alumnus and Eagle Scout Tyler Onishi. After introducing the sextet, he lauded their efforts, saying, “These extraordinary young men have demonstrated their commitment, perseverance and determination, while also having a good time.”

Following Onishi with words of welcome were Troop 764 Parent Club President Ted Nishimura and Scoutmaster Bill Conroy, who explained the many requirements, rank advancements and leadership challenges a boy following the rugged road of scouting must complete on the path to becoming an Eagle Scout.

For Troop 764, there is an additional troop requirement for scouts to reach Eagle: backpacking up to the high-elevation Cottonwood Lakes of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, where, if luck is with them, they might successfully catch the elusive golden trout.

Next, the audience was treated to a series of video slideshows presenting each scout’s journey from childhood to the present day, including their exploits in school, sports and scouting.

Onishi then introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Troop 764 alumnus, former Parent Club president and Eagle Scout Bob Onishi, who began his remarks saying, “That was quite a fun father-son moment, hearing my son introduce me.” He continued, “As a former Troop 764 Eagle Scout, I think I truly understand, to heart, your scouting experience. As fun as it might have been, I’m sure there were challenges during your scouting career, akin to a switchback on a trail getting up to a mountain peak. There were countless obstacles that you were asked to tackle.”

Onishi also paid tribute to the troop’s adult leaders and parents, as well as the scouts themselves. “Treyson, Jeffrey, Kazu, Jonathan, Seiji and Riley, I want to remind you that this crowning achievement you have attained in scouting is merely one of many achievements that you will attain in life. Look at the tools that you’ve developed in scouting, such as resourcefulness and leadership, as building blocks and your key to your success in life.”

He also exhorted them to remain humble.

After ceremonially receiving their Eagle ranks, accompanied by their parents and having their troop neckerchiefs replaced with Eagle neckerchiefs, longtime Assistant Scoutmaster Todd Nakamoto administered the Pledge of the Eagle, after which each scout had an opportunity to say a few words.

First was Riley Udagawa, who graduated summa cum laude from Loyola High School and is attending UC Berkeley to study computer science.

After thanking Morimoto for his “tireless dedication in the troop as a scoutmaster” and for helping with his Eagle Scout community service project, Udagawa thanked his family and parents, Heidi and Eric Udagaw, “for supporting me throughout my scouting career — and my dad in particular, for pushing me to go to events and complete badges quickly.”

Udagawa, who also earned Bronze, Gold and Silver Palms, each representing five additional merit badges earned above the minimum number needed for Eagle, led his fellow scouts in building aluminum outdoor benches, repainting the gym and bathroom doors, and cleaning the gym lobby and bathroom floors at the VJCC for his Eagle Scout community service project.

Next was Seiji Yamaguchi, who graduated from Venice High School and is attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His plans are to pursue a degree in forestry and fire science and minor in kinesiology, and eventually have a career with a fire department.

Mark Morimoto in 2018

“I’d like to personally thank all the scoutmasters — Mr. Morimoto, Mr. Nakamoto, Mr. Conroy, Mr. Decker, Mr. Ono, Mr. Oku, Mr. Hohmann and Mr. Chang — for helping me throughout my boy scouting journey. Without your guidance and support, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today,” he said.

He also thanked his parents, Janet and Russell Yamaguchi, for “supporting me throughout this journey, driving me everywhere, getting me everything I needed and controlling my ego as a teenager.” He also admitted: “At one point, I wanted to quit scouting — but I realized that nowhere else is quite like this troop. That’s what makes Troop 764 so special.”

For his Eagle project, Yamaguchi chartered a bus to transport volunteers to help realign and paint the rock border at the former hospital area at the Manzanar National Historic Site near Independence.

Jeffrey Newton, who graduated from Alexander Hamilton Senior High School and is pursuing a degree in jazz performance at Arizona State University, spoke next.

The son of Pam Green and Rich Newton alluded to the additional difficulties imposed by the pandemic during his last years in the troop, but added, “One thing it absolutely cannot take away is not just becoming an Eagle Scout — but becoming a Troop 764 Eagle Scout.”

“I would like to thank my family, mainly my mother. She describes scouting as trying to push a boulder over a mountain and I couldn’t agree more,” Newton said. As he recalled all the memories and experiences from being in the troop, he had a one-word reaction.

“Everything that I once took for granted is hitting me at once and the only word that I can use to describe it is ‘Wow.’

“I would like to thank Mr. Morimoto, Mr. Nakamoto and all the other scoutmasters who dedicated so much time and energy to make sure this troop is as great as it is.”

For his Eagle project, Newton and his fellow scouts constructed benches for the Mount Olive Lutheran Preschool and refurbished a playhouse.

Treyson Mashita began his remarks by also acknowledging how the pandemic unexpectedly changed his final years in Troop 764. A graduate of Venice High School, he is attending West Los Angeles College and plans to transfer to a CSU or the University of Hawaii to pursue a degree in engineering, possibly environmental or energy.

“I am glad I was able to achieve the rank of Eagle, even when it was a long and a hard process,” Mashita said. “I would like to give a huge thank you to Mr. Morimoto for sticking with me throughout all my years of scouting, even when you weren’t in the troop anymore.” He also thanked the other adult leaders, troop parents and fellow scouts.

He also thanked his parents, Gail and Harvard Mashita. “You’re the ones who did everything for me, from convincing me to stay in scouting to buying all my stuff and the ones who reminded me and drove me to troop meetings, merit badge classes and camping trips. I definitely couldn’t have done it without you.”

Because of the pandemic, he was granted an extension to complete his Eagle Scout community service project, which consisted of water blasting and painting the VJCC’s walls, trims and gutters and sanding and painting the metal bars used for the VJCC Summer Festival booths.

Speaking next was Jonathan Nakamoto, a graduate of DaVinci Science High School who is attending University of Hawaii at Manoa and majoring in mechanical engineering.

The son of Elizabeth Rodriguez and Kevin Nakamoto, he recalled being awestruck as a young scout as he watched his first Troop 764 Eagle Scout Court of Honor. “I saw the four guys up on the stage and I thought to myself, ‘Someday, I want to be up there, too.’”

He also allowed that it was easier said than done. Although he waxed nostalgic about all the “great times” camping at the beach, cooking near the fire, going on hikes and bonding with friends, he also allowed that the road up to being able to stand on the stage with his fellow Eagle Scouts was “pretty rocky,” admitting that there were times when he felt like quitting.

“But I knew through it all that I couldn’t give up, that I had a goal that I needed to pursue — and so I never gave up.”

He thanked the troop’s parents and “Mr. Morimoto, along with all the other scoutmasters. They were always there for me and acted as a guide for me whenever I was lost. I especially want to thank (assistant scoutmaster) Mr. Nakamoto, aka my uncle. … He was always there for me throughout, in Boy Scouts and outside of Boy Scouts, even at the family Christmas party. I especially want to thank my grandparents, my nana and my papa. They were both very, very eager and really wanted me to be up here today.

“Last but not least, I want to thank my dad. He was always there for me. He’s the reason why I came into the troop.”

Nakamoto’s Eagle project took place at the VJCC in October 2020. He led a team of scouts in reinforcing the gym stage door panels with wooden support beams. They also filled in cracks on the doors and the front of the stage, repainted the door panel numbers, replaced the door panel locks, and repainted the front of the stage. 

Nicholas Uyeki was the final new Eagle Scout to speak. A graduate of Culver City High School, he is attending Seattle University and studying to become a nurse. He also became fluent in Japanese thanks to Culver City Unified School District’s Japanese Immersion Program at the El Marino Language School.

Referring to his seven years as a member of Troop 764, Uyeki — the eldest son of Aki and Mike Uyeki —  said, “I have experienced events that I probably would have never ventured out on my own had it not been for this troop.”

He recalled some fun memories but also referred to having to overcome the challenges presented by scouting, including self-doubts, failures and other struggles.

Uyeki realized, however, that the troop offered him a way to grow. “What I found was a new place to call home within the troop, see because here not only do scouts support you, but adults as well. … We were a family.” He also thanked adult leaders and his family, “who supported me through everything.”

Uyeki’s Eagle project took place at the SMAP Daycare Center, where he and his fellow scouts helped replace and paint the outer fences to improve the safety of the facility.

Dr. Mike Uyeki followed his son with a few words and musings about what his son and fellow scouts achieved. “I’ve come to realize that the Eagle Scout is not about the achievement of the individual scouts, a mom, a dad, or even a family. It’s an honor bestowed by a village called Troop 764. People from Hawaii will understand that we call this ‘ohana.’ It means family, but the family extends beyond blood relatives.”

The 2021 Troop 764 Eagle Scout Court of Honor was shot by Matt Beard and Jason Quan and edited by Matthew W. Davis. The sound was recorded by Spencer Kimura and produced by Juliet Conroy, Ana Heard, Leslie Johnson, Ted Nishimura and Alice Park.

From left: Will Hohmann, Weston Rauschuber, Nick Conroy, Tyler Onishi, Cameron Baker and Jared Morimoto.

In August 2020, six other Troop 764 scouts also were recognized at that year’s virtual Eagle Court of Honor for earning the rank of Eagle. They were Cameron Baker (No. 175), Nicholas Conroy (No. 171), William Hohmann (No. 170), Jared Morimoto (No. 172), Tyler Onishi (No. 173), and Weston Rauschuber (No. 174).

Troop 764 was formed in July 1964. Its website is https://www.troop764.com and it is sponsored by the VJCC, located at 12448 Braddock Dr. in the Marina Del Rey area of Los Angeles. For more information about the VJCC, visit http://vjcc.com.

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