The Coast News Group
Andrew Presa, 13, right, stands with his dad, Village Church associate pastor Neal Presa, and one of his collection boxes to help retire American flags. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene
Community Rancho Santa Fe

Eagle Scout candidate turns to Ranch for flag retiring project

A 13-year-old Carlsbad resident has figured out a way to help people in Rancho Santa Fe properly retire their American flags. Andrew Presa of Troop 766 has a connection to the Ranch — his father, Neal Presa, is the associate pastor at The Village Church.

Andrew has been a Scout for nine years and shared it took him about six months to complete his project, which is centered on flag retiring etiquette. 

“I came up with this idea because I wanted a project that would honor not only the people in my church and my community but people in my family that served our country,” he said.

Andrew decided on constructing three flag collection boxes for community members. Locations of the collection boxes in the Ranch are at The Village Church, the post office and the Rancho Santa Fe Association.

“The Association is happy to host the retirement flag box as a patriotic service to our members and in support of one of our local Scouts,” Rancho Santa Fe Association Manager Christy Whalen said.

In tandem, Andrew created a manual for his troop, so they could annually honor the people in their community and their church for their service and could retire flags every year. 

On Aug. 26, Andrew is leading a flag dedication ceremony at The Village Church at noon for all community members.

“We will be retiring the flags that were brought in by the community,” he said, adding his fellow Scouts brainstormed some ceremony ideas.

Andrew said the ceremony will be a full program. A total of 13 Scouts, representing the 13 stripes on the American flag, will say a few words about each stripe.

“We will be retiring one giant flag which represents all of the smaller flags,” he said.

The ashes of this flag will go into a commemorative and then be placed in the Prayer Garden at The Village Church.   

Andrew envisioned that the collection boxes would mirror a parcel drop box. The collection boxes, which are about 3 feet tall, are constructed from plywood. Andrew admitted he went through five revisions until he developed the final product.

He also said he is thankful for the support he received at the church, including the $500 donation that went to this Eagle Scout project.

To date, Andrew has retrieved more than 30 American flags from the collection boxes, which he’s thrilled about since he can help retire these flags with both respect and dignity.

Neal Presa explained how his son’s project made sense for a variety of reasons. While they had many family members who served in the military, Presa said The Village Church is very committed to supporting military veterans. 

“We launched a veterans’ initiative to address homelessness among the veteran community here in North County,” he said. “We love our country, we are supportive of our country, and so it made sense for Andrew to do something like this.”

Presa went on to say the Scout program enables youth members to make a powerful contribution to both their community and nation.

“Here’s an example how one project from one young man will impact the country for many, many years,” he said.