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Birds of a feather in family of Eagles

Like most 18-year-olds, Eric West is a lot of things. One of them is a Parkview Panther, or more accurately the Parkview Panther, as in the school's mascot.

He's also one of the three West brothers - "(people) always call us the three West brothers," he said - who are well known around Parkview and Boy Scout Troop No. 580. And this past weekend, he joined another brotherhood, the Parkview Panther becoming an Eagle Scout, continuing a family tradition.

Becoming an Eagle Scout is an impressive feat, one that about 2 percent of scouts achieve. Having one family with three sons accomplishing the designation is much more rare, a unique trifecta of leadership, hard work and perseverance.

"The West family is one of the finest families I ever hope to come across," said McK (pronounced Mick) King, a Scout counselor to each of the West boys who himself is one of three Eagle Scout brothers. "It's a challenge to get one (Eagle Scout from a family), much less three."

Eric is the latest West brother to meet that challenge, joining Jimmy and Brian. It's not always easy being a little brother, but it certainly has its advantages in the motivation department.

"My brothers have helped me tremendously; they actually pushed me to get it," Eric said. "It would have been so weird if only two West brothers were Eagle Scouts. They always call us 'the three West brothers.'"

Jim West wasn't involved in scouting as a kid, sports being his pursuit. But that changed when his oldest son, Jimmy, got involved with Cub Scouts. Pretty soon, Jim was involved as well - "Cub Scouts was just the tip of the iceberg" - and the West family pipeline of future Eagle Scouts was started.

The culmination came Saturday night at Lucerne Baptist Church when Eric joined the group, the 31st from his troop to make Eagle Scout. It was quite a night for Jim West and his wife, Karen. My three sons, indeed.

"All I can say is that I'm extremely proud of all three of them," Jim West said. "It shows they can stick with something all the way through and get to the ultimate goal - Eagle."

Attaining that goal is not easy. A Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges while demonstrating Scout spirit, service and leadership. All those things are put to the test with the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project.

For Eric, that project was fixing the walls at Lucerne Baptist Church, a task that required 28 people, 272 man hours and about $1,200 in materials and equipment, according to King. Eric was like a project foreman, overseeing the entire process from start to finish.

"It was a lot (of work)," Eric West said. "I can't believe I did it. Wow. The main thing was to show leadership."

That a West brother did just that was hardly surprising to King. He has been the Life Eagle Counselor for each of the West boys, helping guide them through the process. He's seen the boys succeed at Scouting and beyond.

He's seen Jimmy major in music education at Georgia State University with thoughts of becoming a band director, and he's seen Brian matriculate at Georgia Tech, where he is majoring in aerospace engineering. And he expects Eric to follow right along.

Eric isn't sure where he wants to go to college or what he wants to be, but King expects a lot from a person he calls "one of the happiest kids I've been around." Just like he, and others, expect a lot from all Eagle Scouts.

"When you see an Eagle (Scout), you know he has what it takes to go the distance in life and succeed," King said.

For the West family, that's a sentiment multiplied by three.

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.

com. His column appears on Tuesdays.