MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – He came close. Leon Pringle, Jr. achieved the rank of Life Scout while a member of the Boy Scouts in his youth. Then it took earning 21 merit badges. Pringle fell short of his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Boy Scout can attain, by just one–the bird study merit badge.
Pringle said then, it took identifying some 40 species of birds in your neighborhood, writing reports on each and making pictures. Pringle said he just didn’t get around to committing to that final merit badge back then, and he’s regretted it ever since.
But he says he’s always kept his hand in scouting. Now he and 13 members of Troop 113 will pursue the bird study merit badge together. The point he says, to show the young Scouts the value of setting goals and committing to them.
There’s no doubt Pringle will be able to earn the badge. After all, he is a former NASA engineer. If you ever saw mission control on any of the Gemini or Apollo space flight programs, you may have seen Pringle. He manned one of the consoles, keeping an eye on the electronics of the spacecraft. Pringle was friends with most of the astronauts of the era and remains friends with astronaut Fred Haise today.
The thing is earning his last merit badge to become an Eagle Scout will be largely ceremonial. That’s because Boy Scouts of America requires scouts to complete the tasks by the age of 18. But it won’t stop the troop from having a ceremony to bestow the Eagle Scout badge Pringle would have earned.