The uniforms that Leo Hochhauser – Weehawken’s first Eagle Scout in 20 years – has donned throughout his life all attest to the leadership in his character. He wears a Boy Scout getup one day, a military police uniform another.
Even when in plain clothes he inspires his 16-year-old brother Henry and other rising Scouts.
“Not long after his first meeting when he was 8 years old, Leo knew he wanted to be a part of the [Boy] Scouts [of America] and soon set himself on the path to Eagle,” said Donna, Leo’s mother.
Leo, 19, who has lived in Weehawken since he was 1 years old, jokes that he’s a survivalist at heart.
“I have emergency preparedness at home…enough for a zombie apocalypse,” he says between laughs.
But the Boy Scouts are where his heart is.
“There’s something about the Boy Scouts that no other school program offers,” the Weehawken High School graduate said.
To achieve Eagle Scout for Weehawken Troop 223, he earned over 30 merit badges for community service feats, but mainly for his service project. For his project, Hochhauser worked with the Weehawken Elks to set up a way in each school and Town Hall to collect donations for veterans’ hospitals in the area that are affected by budget cuts.
“There’s something about the Boy Scouts that no other school program offers.” – Leo Hochhauser
“Something like 1 percent of Boy Scouts who have been in the program have made Eagle Scout,” Hochhauser said. “To be part of that few, it’s pretty great.”
A Scout for life
Rising to the rank of Eagle Scout came at an ideal time for Hochhauser last year. He shipped out to the National Guard for basic training just 10 days later.
“I wanted to join a branch of the Army,” he said. “I was 13 or 14 when I told my parents that when I turn 17 I want them to sign my enlistment papers. They said ‘Oh sure’ and figured I’d change my mind. But when I took them to the recruiter they were shocked to say the least.”
When he enlisted in the National Guard he was able to transfer some of his Boy Scout skills, such as how to shoot a rifle and shotgun, apply first aid, and read a map. It also helped him stay in shape.
Not to mention that due to his Eagle Scout status, the National Guard automatically promoted him up to Private Second Class. Typically trainees start off as simply recruits or privates.
Today, Hochhauser is a military police officer in Teaneck dubbed by fellow officers as “Hooch,” as an abbreviation of his last name. He is a part of the Homeland Response Force – in charge of responding to manmade disasters in the region.
Although he spent five months in training, as soon as he returned he made sure to get back to his troop.
“I just want to stay involved. I love being with the kids and helping out the program,” said Hochhauser, who is currently an assistant scout master. “My dad [Hal] is a scout master. One day he’ll step down and I may take over.”
Steven Rodas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.