John and Erin Henrie became the proud parents of two Eagle Scouts Thursday night. One Eagle Award was presented to their son Tanner. The other was awarded posthumously to their other son, James, who died just under a year ago in a tragic accident in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
James and his best friend, Eric Fogg, both 17, were hiking near the Twin Peaks area at about 10,000 feet when Fogg slipped and fell 100 to 200 feet. Fogg suffered two broken wrists, a fractured skull and two severely cut-up knees.
James was climbing down to help Fogg when he slipped and fell 450 feet to his death.
Thursday, in an emotional ceremony at the LDS Sandy Granite Stake Center, James' parents were presented with the Spirit of the Eagle Award, given to honor those Scouts who have lost their lives in a tragic accident or from illness.
"It's just such an honor to his memory," John Henrie said.
But being presented with the Spirit of the Eagle Award was just part of the way Troop 1189 honored James. An amazing total of 23 boys in the troop received their Eagle Scout awards Thursday, including Fogg. All of them were inspired to complete their service projects and earn their awards in James' honor.
"We did this for him. I think he'd be pretty proud right now," Fogg said. "No one was left behind."
In addition to completing their own service projects, the Scouts completed a service project for James. It was the only requirement he had left to finish before receiving his Eagle. The Scouts made quilts and donated them to an orphanage in China. They picked that project because just 12 days before James' death, his family adopted a baby girl, Libby, from that same orphanage.
Libby and James formed an instant bond in the short time they were together. And they both shared the same birthday, which was Thursday. Libby turned 2 while James would have turned 18.
Doug Fogg, Eric's father, presented the Spirit of the Eagle Award to James' parents. Before making the presentation, James' picture was displayed with a projector on a screen. Fogg recalled how Henrie was a leader in the Scouting organization and a person the other Scouts looked up to, especially during summer camp.
Past Scoutmasters remembered James running through the slot canyons trying to catch lizards. Others remembered the experienced outdoorsman as a young man who not only hiked King's Peak and the Pffeiferhorn but as someone who was always first to the top of the mountain. They said he always took the lead not for bragging rights but to serve as inspiration for the other Scouts and to challenge them to reach their potential.
A picture of James' notebook that was found in his room after his death was then displayed for the audience. James had written a list of the goals he wanted to accomplish. One of them, which was circled, was hiking Twin Peaks.
"We are honored to complete this project for him," Fogg said. "Thank you James Henrie."
The audience in the nearly full gymnasium gave a long standing ovation for James as Fogg completed his speech and James' parents walked to the front to accept the award.
"A lot of good was done in the world because of a tragic event," Scoutmaster Steve Brewster said after listing the Eagle Service projects that were completed after Henrie's death.
"It's a real tribute just to the goodness of the boys," John Henrie said. "It's a great tribute to him. It's an honor, it really is."
"Our son would just be so touched. He really loved these guys," added Erin Henrie.
Eric Fogg completed his service project by repainting the helicopter landing pad at Alta View Hospital. A Life Flight helicopter had hoisted Fogg off the mountain following his accident.
Today, he said his wrists are still sore at times, but he's close to complete recovery.
Fogg said that as he watched the ceremony, his thoughts drifted to his friend and all he did.
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