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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Richard Ryan is now officially an Eagle Scout. At a ceremony last weekend in Florence, South Carolina, the award was given to him by another Eagle Scout: his grandson, Joshua - that's right - grandson. Mr. Ryan is 81 years old and he's on the phone. Congratulations.

Mr. RICHARD RYAN: Thank you very much.

HANSEN: You made it to the rank of Eagle Scout in 1945. What took so long for you to have the ceremony and get that badge?

Mr. RYAN: Well, 1945 was a pretty busy year for people in this country. We were still fighting the war. While I completed all my physical requirements, there just didn't seem to be time to have a court of honor.

HANSEN: And you joined the Navy, right?

Mr. RYAN: And then I shortly joined the Navy and went off for a couple of years. I come home, I was more interested in renewing my relationship with the lady that's now my wife of 61 years.

HANSEN: Oh. What does it mean for you to finally have had that ceremony of honor and have your grandson, you know, give you the award?

Mr. RYAN: Well, very proud. I love all of my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Josh happens to be following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps, as far as this Eagle is concerned. He now has twin boys, so maybe we'll have a couple more Eagles in a few years.

HANSEN: Wow. Four generations of Eagle Scouts. You worked at the Kennedy Space Center during the Apollo Program. Did that earn you any extra merit badges?

Mr. RYAN: No. I had long since given up chasing merit badges.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Did it bother you that you had never had an honor ceremony?

Mr. RYAN: Well, yes, I'm sure it did. Mainly the fact that I didn't get an opportunity to pin a miniature eagle on my mother. And that's always been part of our ceremony.

HANSEN: Yeah. So, what does it take to become an Eagle Scout?

Mr. RYAN: Well, there's a lot of perseverance there. I know my personal challenge at the time was the bird study merit badge, and it wasn't of particular interest to me until I got finished with it. And I still like now to pick out the birds that I see. You know, you're not an Eagle Scout for as long as you're a Boy Scout - you're an Eagle Scout for life.

HANSEN: Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout.

Mr. RYAN: That's true. That's very true.

HANSEN: Richard Ryan became an Eagle Scout at the age of 81. He joined us from his home in South Carolina. Thank you and, again, congratulations.

Mr. RYAN: Thank you very much and I appreciate the call. God bless you.

HANSEN: This is NPR News.

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