An American Restoration: Toms River Scout Gives Piece of American History a Makeover
By Phil Stilton
The anchor that used to be on board the World War II era Essex Class air craft carrier, the U.S. Randolph currently sits along the Toms River waterfront on Robbins Parkway. The anchor is on loan to the township from the U.S. Navy, but in recent years, hasn’t seen much attention in recent years. It had been vandalized in defaced with graffiti. Local residents claim the anchor was being “desecrated” by patrons from a nearby bar, passing on their way to the parking lot on the other side of Robbins Way.
That’s when Adrian Lekperic, an 8th grader from St. Joseph Elementary School, a Boy Scout eagerly awaiting his confirmation to be an Eagle Scout, had an idea for his own community service project. Adrian decided to refurbish the old anchor of the ship that spearheaded the American bombing of the Japanese mainland during World War II. The Randolph also played a large role in the U.S. Marines’ invasion of Okinawa in April of 1945. Fighters and bombers launched from the deck of the Randolph helped pave the way for the famous raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi.
Adrian stripped, primed and repainted the anchor. It took him several months, but through hard work and some donations, he singlehandedly restored the anchor to its former beauty. On January 24th, Adrian was honored by Mayor Tom Kelaher and members of the Toms River township council. When not restoring artifacts from America’s history, Adrian is the captain of the St. Joseph’s wrestling team where he is also an honor roll student, alter boy for the St. Joseph Parish, plays football for the Toms River East Angels, lacrosse with Toms River LAX and runs for the St. Joe’s track team. He is also the recipient of the Ad Alati Dei award which is given to Boy Scouts who complete an eight month course which demonstrates a scout’s faith in the Catholic Church.