WINONA – A Vaiden teen was honored Sunday for achieving what no other scout in the Boy Scouts of America have ever achieved – earning all 138 merit badges.
Eagle Scout James Armstrong, 17, of Vaiden was honored Sunday with a reception at the American Legion Post 52 for meeting the requirements to earn all 138 merit badges.
According to the Chickasaw Council of The Boy Scouts of America, the most merit badges awarded until now was 135, making Armstrong the recipient of the most merit badges in the history of the Boy Scouts of America.
Armstrong started as a Cub Scout in first grade, eventually rising to the Boy Scout rank and then Eagle Scout. He started earning merit badges as a Boy Scout, earning his Art merit badge first.
As a Boy Scout, Armstrong continued to earn merit badges, and when he finally achieved Eagle Scout rank at age 14, he had 91 merit badges.
“The most difficult to get are the Eagle Merit Badges, 21 in total,” Armstrong said.
Merit badges range in a wide-variety of skills, from Theatre to Bird Study to Basketry to Digital Technology.
Winona’s Troop 4039 Scout Leader Mike Jones explained that merit badges are there to open up new experiences for scouts.
“The reason for a merit badge is so you may explore something that may be your vocation later,” Jones said.
For Armstrong, who hopes to study engineering in college, earning his Aviation, Chemistry, and Robotics merit badges were especially special. For Aviation, Armstrong actually assisted in flying a plane, and for Robotics, he constructed his own robot. The toughest merit badge to achieve for Armstrong was Citizenship. The easiest? Fingerprinting.
Armstrong said after he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, he was just 47 merit badges short of completion.
“I said I’d try to get there,” Armstrong said. “I’ve been picking them off the list.”
His final badge, Scuba Diving, required specialized training and travel to achieve. He said attended a weekend class in Canton before traveling to Pelham, Ala., to swim in a deep body of water.
“I hope to go to Destin to do another dive soon,” Armstrong said.
Jones explained that earn all 138 merit badges, it not only takes commitment from the scout, but from the scout’s parents. Armstrong thanked his parents for their support in reaching this milestone.
“I want to thank God for everything he has given me, and my Mom and Dad [Tim and Bobby Armstrong] for everything they have helped me with,” Armstrong said before a packed house at the American Legion.
A senior at Winona High School, Armstrong is an A student and active on campus. He is a member of the National Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Super Scholars, the National Art Honor Society, and participates in the Skills USA vocational program. He not only has perfect attendance, but he is on the A Honor Roll.
A member of Vaiden Baptist Church, Armstrong is the grandson of Johnnie and Purvy Weeks of Pearl and Joyce Armstrong and the late Joe Armstrong of Vaiden.
After graduating from Winona High School in May, Armstrong hopes to continue his education at Holmes Community College for two years before heading to Mississippi State University to pursue a degree in engineering.
As his scouting career reaches its conclusion at age 18, Armstrong said he still hopes to earn uniform patches. During his 10 years as a scout, he has succeeded where no other scout has yet to succeed.
Jones said Armstrong has already served in some leadership roles as a scout, but he hopes one day, Armstrong will have his own children and eventually serve in troop leadership positions.
“He has done everything he can as a Boy Scout,” Jones said. “James is an exceptional young man.
For those just starting out in scouting, Armstrong offered some words of advice in being successful as a Boy Scout.
“Do what you are supposed to do in scouts and stick with it,” he said. “Work hard. There is a lot of hard work to do.”