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Fly like an Eagle

Notable Eagle Scouts

Nobel Prize Laureates: Dudley R. Herschbach, Peter Agre, Robert Coleman Richardson and Frederick Reines.

Gerald R. Ford, 38th president of the United States

Neil Armstrong, First man on the moon

Steve Fossett, world-record holder; first to circumnavigate Earth solo in a balloon and an airplane

Willie Banks, Olympic athlete, former world-record holder in triple jump and long jump

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City

Guion “Guy” S. Bluford Jr., retired U.S. Air Force officer and space shuttle astronaut; first African American in space

Bill Bradley, former professional basketball player, U.S. senator, and presidential candidate

Stephen Breyer, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Mike Crapo, U.S. senator from Idaho

William C. DeVries, M.D., surgeon and educator; transplanted the first artificial heart

Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts and presidential candidate

Mike Enzi, U.S. senator from Wyoming

Thomas Foley, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and ambassador to Japan

Chan Gailey, college and professional football coach

John Garamendi, lieutenant governor of California

Bill Gates Sr., CEO of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; father of Bill Gates

Robert Gates, U.S. secretary of defense and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Michael Kahn, Academy Award–winning film editor

James A. Lovell Jr., former U.S. Navy officer and Apollo 13 commander

Gary Locke, Former governor of Washington; first Chinese American governor in the United States

Richard G. Lugar, U.S. senator from Indiana

J. Willard Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International

George Meyer, writer and producer of “The Simpsons”

Ben Nelson, U.S. senator from Nebraska

H. Ross Perot, founder of EDS and Perot Systems; former presidential candidate

Rick Perry, Governor of Texas

Beasley Reece, former NFL player and sportscaster

Mike Rowe, host of “Dirty Jobs” television program

Donald Rumsfeld, former U. S. secretary of defense

Jefferson Sessions, U.S. senator from Alabama

William S. Sessions, former federal judge and director of the FBI

John Tesh, recording artist and performer

Togo West, former U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs and secretary of the Army

EAGLE COUNTY — Local Boy Scout Greg El-Bitar is one of the top 2 percent, and he joins the ranks of astronauts, presidents and captains of industry as an Eagle Scout.

Like anything worth having, he had to work at it. In El-Bitar’s case, that meant getting down on his hands and knees and replacing the floor in the St. Patrick Catholic Church Spirit Center and convincing other teenagers to do the same thing. He did that after a few years of working his way through the Scouting program one step at a time.

And that, he says, is Scouting’s most important lesson.

“It teaches you to set a long-term goal, then teaches you how to work toward it in incremental steps,” said El-Bitar, a member of local Boy Scout Troop 222, based in Eagle.

It’s a lesson that millions of young men hear, but almost none put into practice. Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in Boy Scouts of America. Of the tens of millions of young men who’ve been Boy Scouts, fewer than 2 million have earned that rank since it was introduced in 1911.

“Yes it’s work, but it’s also a lot of fun,” El-Bitar said.

Along his road to Eagle Scout he became a certified scuba diver, learned to shoot and acquired all kinds of outdoor skills. He also learned leadership and problem solving skills.

“These are skills that will help me be prepared for the rest of my life,” he said.

The Eagle Scout service project is designed to help any religious institution, any school or the community. The written project plan must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, the scoutmaster and troop committee, and the council or district before you start.

El-Bitar chose to replace St. Patrick’s Spirit Center floor.

“It was phenomenal. The carpet was really old and needed to be thrown away,” said Jeanmarie Angarola, St. Patrick’s office manager.

The Spirit Center is a meet and greet place where people eat, drink, mix and mingle. Along with all the mingling, they also make the occasional mess, and the carpet was showing its age.

“I can’t even tell you how disgusting it was,” Angarola said.

El-Bitar rounded up donations for materials and labor, food and everything they needed to do the job. Then he convinced other teenagers from Troop 222 to help.

They pulled up the old carpet and padding and replaced it with hardwood floor and some new carpet. It’s a total job of 2,000 square feet. It seems only right that one of the first events on that new floor was El-Bitar’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor, attended by more than 100 people.

Earning your Eagle

By the time Eagle Scouts reach that lofty rank, they will have earned at least 21 merit badges and have demonstrated Scout Spirit through the Boy Scout Oath and Law, service, and leadership, as well as leadership positions as the Scout progresses through the ranks. After all that, the Scout plans, organizes, leads and manages an extensive Eagle service project.

Scouting’s highest honor was created in 1911. The first Eagle Scout medal was awarded in 1912 to Arthur Rose Eldred, a 17-year-old member of Troop 1 of Rockville Center, Long Island, N.Y. Eldred earned his Eagle award even before the badge’s design was finished, so he had to wait until Labor Day, Sept. 2, 1912. Eldred’s son and grandson earned the Eagle rank as well.

In 1982, 13-year-old Alexander Holsinger, of Normal, Ill., was recognized as the one-millionth Eagle Scout. In 2009, Anthony Thomas, of Lakeville, Minn., was recognized as the two-millionth in 2009.

At the end of 2012, of the 83,486,083 young men who have been Boy Scouts since 1911, 2,209,000 Scouts had earned Eagle Scout, just more than 2 percent. That number appears to be growing; in 2012, 7 percent of the Boy Scout membership earned the Eagle award, 57,976.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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