By Dr.Stratton C. Murrell
I first became acquainted with the Boy Scouts a few years before I started to school. My parents , Z.E. Murrell and his wife Louise, owned and operated an amusement area at Montford Point,on New River in Onslow County,North Carolina ( this area is now a part of Camp Lejeune, a U.S. Marine Base.) I was born there on January 11, 1928. Montford Point was a place where the people had fun swimming,with Sunday School lpicnics,boating fishing and other things.We had some cottages for rent and also some camping areas.
Mr. Goodman,from Kenansville, rented one of our cabins in the summer so that his Boy Scout troop could have a camping experience. My brother, Vann, and I were cub scout age at the time we took some of the tests of the Boy Scouts just for the fun of it.
And then I was twelve years old in 1940.Things seemed to be peaceful at that time and our country was recovering from the Great Depression which was an international phenomenon. Hitler invaded Poland in 1938 and some people thought that this was the beginning of another World War. Most people in our country thought that Europe and the rest of the world was very far away and that they should take care of their own problems.One of my father's problems at that time was that he wanted my brother and I to join the Boy Scouts. Mr.Goodson referred him to the Tuscarora Council office. At that time we found that Onslow county was in the East Carolina Council district. We were told that the East Carolina Council was defunct. In addition to this we found that we had to have at least twelve boys who were interested in scouting in order to organize a troop. There were not that many boys available. But there was an alternate plan. We could become LONE SCOUTS. Technically,we were Boy Scouts in a very rural area and we were registered iin the Tuscarora Council. I am not sure about the details,but I know that I was 12 years old in 1940 and I was probably registered as a Boy Scout at that time. My brother Vann was 18 months younger than I and he was probably registered in 1941. At that time, we were the only Boy Scouts in Onslow County. My father was our scoutmaster.....the first in Onslow county (At a later date my father was the recipient of the SILVER BEAVER AWARD in recognition of his volunteer services to the Boy Scouts and the JAY CEES OUTSTANDING SENIOR CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR SERVICE TO HIS COMMUNITY. At that time,My father was more concerned with the Boy Scouts rather than some problems of war in Europe. He kept working on the Boy Scout problem and finally found twelve boys who wanted to be in a Boy Scout Troop. It was in 1941 and the East Carolina Council was back in action. My father applied for a charter for troop 20. And then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941. Our charter arrived in the mail on December 8. So, Scouting literally began with a bang in Onslow County. At the same time our President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had written a letter to Congress and said our country should declare war on Japan---which they did on December 8, 1941.
But the bang was not just with the Boy Scouts and our country. The bang was like the roar of a cannon to me and my family (and approximately 700 other families in Onslow county). Its hard to believe as I write these things at this time (2012) that when I joined the Boy Scouts I also became a displaced person...... two times. The first time was in 1940 when the federal government was surveying the Onslow County property so that they could eventually use this property to build Camp Lejeune. At that time the school I attended burned and my class mates were displaced and I attended classes at the Presbyterian church on Mill Ave. The graduating event for the class of 1940 was held at the Onslow Theater (which was the first movie theater built in Jacksonville in 1924). The next displacement was when the survey was completed in 1940 and many families were evacuated from their property so that the Marine Base could be built there. Today we think of such a title as one who lives in the Middle East like Jordan.It was bad for us, but it was terrible for many of the other people. In the 1930s my father had established an auto parts business in Jacksonville and in 1934 we lived in Jacksonville and Montford Point became our summer home. But some of the other people had to move from their land with no idea of where they could go even thought they were paid for their property. The tenant farmers had it even worse. They did not own any land, but they had to move and live some where without any money. somehow we adjusted to the situation and went on camping trips and earned our merit badges.
Vann and I became more involved in scouting when Camp Charles became active again in 1948 and 1949 I do not know the details of this transaction, but I do know that Mr. Mozingo was the chief scout executive at that time. He found that Vann I and I were born at Mont ford Point before Camp Lejeune was established and we lived in a house built out over New River and that we had been associated with the Boy Scouts all of our lives. In addition to this we were interested in developing and being taught water safety and recreational skills as taught by the Red Cross. In fact,long before we were twelve years old the Red Cross held water safety classes at Montford Point and we would participate in these classes as students and we would also demonstrate how young people could use a skiff (rowboat) safely and efficiently. Some of our friends began to think over these things in later years and agreed that those Murrell Boys were like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn all rolled up together with Peter Pann. Mr. Mozingo was impressed and suggested that we enroll (at our own expense), in the Boy Scout Aquatic School in Greenville, S.C. and we became official Boy Scout Waterfront Directors. We were Co-Waterfront Directors at Camp Charles in 1948 and 1949. In 1950 Vann had moved on and I was the Waterfront Director at Camp Charles. I took a short leave of absence and went to the Boy Scout National Jamboree at Valley Forge, Penn. I was an aid for Dr. Rose at the First Aid Tent. The major health problem was the treatment of Poison Ivy.
Vann and his wife, Ina, went to Scotland and he enrolled in the seminary at Edinburgh and retired from scouting. I continued on through 1950 and continued at Camp Charles through 1950. I took a brief leave of absence from my duties at Camp Charles and went to the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Valley Forge ( the birth place of freedom) in 1950 After I finished the season at Camp Charles I went to Philadelphia and finished my professional studies in 1954, and returned to Jacksonville and set up my office.I then continued my activities as an adult scouter. Vann returned to this country and was on the faculty at Campbell College and then went to Gardner Webb College and was the Director of the Department Of Religion Religion.
In addition to being a health care specialist, I was also beginning a new phase in scouting as an adult. For several years (beginning in 1964) I was the president of the district committee of Onslow county,East Carolina Council, Boy Scouts Of America and also the Adviser for the Order Of The Arrow. I was the recipient of the Silver Beaver Award and the Jay Cees Distinguished Service Award. My father, Z.E. Murrell,Jr., was the recipient of these two awards a few years before me.And then in 1967 I began an adventure which was a unique experience for a Boy Scout. I had the opportunity to be the volunteer president of the local Community Action Agency at the time of Lyndon Johnson. The CAA was set up to improve a community with special emphasis on integrating Afro-Americans into the social structure. It was a Boy Scout's dream.To be the president of such an organization would be a super good deed for the entire community. But there were some problems.It was during the time of Civil and Dr.Martin Luther King,Jr.It was the time of extreme national stress. Just before I became the president of The Onslow County Fund some college students tried to register the Afro-Americans in Mississippi to vote.These students were murdered because of their efforts to extend the freedom to vote to all of the citizens of this country---even the Afro-Americans. Later on, Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr. was assassinated. For more details, check our story, THE CAR BOMB CAPER.
I accepted the job and for seventeen years I held this position as a volunteer and I learned a lot about freedom in this country. I learned that we had a restricted kind of freedom in that all of our citizens were free and equal under the law only. Blacks were not equal in the voting process,and they could not eat in a restaurant with white people,etc. While Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in the spotlight leading marches for Civil Rights, the Onslow County Fund (and other CAA units) were working in various communities silently preparing the way to make civil rights a workable component of the community and education was a top priority (This was also a top priority plank in the Democrat's platform at their convention in September, 2012). Integration was already a reality in the public schools by 1960 and d Head Start improved the situation. During this time, from 1954 to 1974 I served n various positions in scouting and was the president of the Onslow County-Camp Lejeune District for several years in addition to being scoutmaster of troop 216 which was sponsored by the First Baptist Church Of Jacksonville. I retired from the Onslow County Fund in 1982 and no one could be found to take my place. The Board of Directors was dissolved and Rev. Willie Green was the professional director for several years and later (after his death)it became necessary to combine forces with the Duplin County office. After that time there was no CAA office in Onslow County. The CAA is still active in Duplin County.
I graduated from Wake Forest in !950 and my major studies were in general science and history. I did my graduate studies in Philadelphia and setup my practice in Jacksonville, N.C. in 1954. I then closed down my office in 1990 and became an itenierent vision specialist and filled in for doctors who were going on a vacation or were sick,etc. My territory ranged from Wilmington to Morehead City. I joined the local historical society and wrote several historical articles ( which were published in several newspapers, the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society newsletter and Our State magazine) about the coastal area of North Carolina with special emphasis on Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune. My most recent Boy Scout project was to celebrate the fiftieth Anniversary of the Order Of The Arrow Of the East Carolina Council, Boy Scouts Of America.