COCHRAN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Just 5% of kids who enter the boy scouts program reach Eagle Scout status. Thursday night, two Cochran teenagers become a part of that elite fraternity.
Jacob Echols and Ross Thompson are not only first cousins--they're best friends, so it was only fitting for them to be honored as Eagle Scouts on the same night.
"They are extraordinary boys who have overcome a lot in their young lives and have achieved a lot," says Jacob's mother, Cherie Echols. "We're very proud of them."
Ross's older brother, Richard, died in a car accident in 2010.
Part of becoming an Eagle Scout is completing a service project. Ross wanted to do something special in his brother's memory.
"At the funeral, Ross actually noticed that there was no sign marking the cemetery," says Ross's mother, Lori Thompson. "And that there were exposed trash cans where trash could blow around and just kind of litter the cemetery, so he felt the need to improve that some and help with that so that not only Richard, his brother, but others could have a respectful place to be laid to rest."
Major General Les Carroll of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, made the trip down to honor two boys who he called proven leaders in their community.
"It speaks of not only their effort, their perseverance, their dedication, their honor, their integrity--all of those things," says Carroll, "But also their family, their church, and their community."
Both Echols and Thompson say it's an honor that a two-star general would take time out of his busy schedule to recognize their efforts.
"He is aware of how great this award is," says Echols.
"I'm grateful that he took this time to come and speak to us and make this even more special for us," says Thompson.
Both Jacob and Ross are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cochran.
Ross has accepted a 2-year full-time mission for the church in Pocatello, Idaho. He reports for service April 10.
Jacob is still in high school, but he'll also be leaving the Peach State for a full-time mission after he graduates in May.