Courtesy of the LA Times:

While discussing Arlington’s outdated record-keeping over dinner one night last summer, Ricky — who had just gotten an A in his Programming 1 class at school — announced, “I can fix that…”

Ricky didn’t have his driver’s license yet, so he hitched a ride with his mom on her 45-minute commute from their home in Stafford, Va., to her workplace in Washington. He hopped the Metro the rest of the way to the cemetery…

One afternoon while he was out here taking pictures, a woman asked, “What number is my son?” She wanted to know where he fell in a casualty count that is nearing 6,000 for both wars. Ricky couldn’t answer her, but later he told his mom that he didn’t want them to be numbers; he wanted them to be remembered as people….

He spent afternoons in a bookstore poring over Web development manuals for the right program language to create the site. At night, in his family’s study, his computer hooked up to a 40-inch flat screen and his keyboard on a snack table in front of the couch, he input hundreds of names, photos, links to obituaries and newspaper accounts; he created a space to blog tributes.

For me, this story is about how an 11th grader responded faster to the needs of the nation than the Army. His project is another example of how the the proliferation of web/programming skills changes our expectations for large, bureaucratic organizations. Tech-wise, his project is relatively simple. His genius lies in responding to a need without waiting for someone else (the Army) to do it.

Posted by Jeffrey Withington in Cyber

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  • Byron

    Nice to see we still have young people who understand the sacrifice our service members make and are willing to work very hard to render them the honor they so justly deserve. I sincerely hope this young man makes it to the Naval Academy.

  • Edward J. Higgins

    This young man saw a problem, researched ways to fix the problem, then did it — no government oversight.
    He met the situation head on and accomplished his mission.
    Where do we find such men?
    USNI —- give this young man a big BRAVO ZULU!!!

  • Aubrey

    “His genius lies in responding to a need without waiting for someone else (the Army) to do it.”

    You nailed it here – I don’t care how complex or simply the website, the young man saw a problem and solved it with thought and effort.

    On another level, I simply want to hold that young manup and applaud him for the heart and feeling behind his effort. We need more like him.

  • Surfcaster

    A well intentioned young man, with a little bit of skill, and a desire to something right and quick and selfless. Both we need more and hope they stay that way.

  • Mark Toomey

    “responding to a need without waiting for someone else’ that is the best description of an American I can think of! The young man is a credit to his family, and will undoubtedly excel in whatever endeavor he pursues.

  • well done, young Sir!

    I want this young man to come work for me.

  • David J Mckenzie

    A young Patriot with conviction , determination , and the spirit to honor the fallen and their families also. We need a leader of this caliber in the Whitehouse. Then we would have a President with the conviction , determination , and spirit to return this country back to its citizens. Thank God this young man is our future.

  • Sombody Recruit Him

    I salute you, young man! The US Military needs him and people of his calibre.

  • RM

    That boy has drive, smarts and a big heart. You truly have a son to be proud of!

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Every so often the idealism and audacity of youth gladden the heart of a cynical old man.

    Today, for example.

    BZ, Rick.

  • Randy ‘Steam’ Stevens

    He saw a need and responded.

    He used the tools at his disposal and accomplished the objective.

    Obviously an enlisted man.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    Officer or enlisted – he is imbibed with the American spirit.

    Post this in the ward room.

    I have heard that all of Arlington’s graduates eat in the same mess.


  • ewok40k

    and they say a single man cant make difference in our times…
    how wrong they are.

  • Rich B.

    The young man’s effort and success should be a beacon withour communities with what is wrong with defense acquisition.

    He was able to serve the public good because of he did not face the hurdles of an ever growing acquisition system.

    If he were required to generate this website for the DoD he would have had to conduct a capabilities based assement for the website bringing in all of the stakeholders; family, branches of service, the IT community…

    Now He would not be permitted to proceed without approval from his web MDA and conducting an analysis of alternatives for the correct code, software and storage medium…

    He would have to submit Cost Estimations to gain PMO budget approval.

    Moving on after gaining approval he “might” be able to move on Source selection, developing a technological contract and prototyping…Meanwhile many of his efforts would be spent drafting his capabilities description document and preparing it for Joint Staff Review..

    I won’t even go into Clinger-Cohen requirements or NMCI.


    (this could go on for days)

    So it’s not as a country we cannot develop solutions quickly. Some solutions are evident to even children. It is the amount of governance that hamstrings us.

    I am simply happy we do have young men with such initiative and freedom to use it.

  • John Rice

    Seems painfully obvious to me that Army Intelligence is an


    Rich B.
    I am waiting for the C-130J moment here. Where, given an existing aircraft with known capabilities that has already been aquired as is (admittedly by Congress), the USAF retroactively writes performance specifications that the aircraft can’t meet!