Silver Buffalo Award

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Silver Buffalo Award
Silver Buffalo Award.png
Medal and knot
OwnerBoy Scouts of America
CountryUnited States
Awarded forNoteworthy and extraordinary service to youth on a national basis
Recipients776 (1926-2017)
Silver Antelope Award
Silver World Award
 Scouting portal

The Silver Buffalo Award is the national-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. It is presented for noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth on a national basis, either as part of, or independent of the Scouting program. The award is made by the National Court of Honor and the recipient need not be a registered member of the BSA.


Buffalo Statue, donated to Gilwell Park by the Boy Scouts of America in 1926

The award consists of a silver buffalo (American bison) medal suspended from a red and white ribbon worn around the neck. Recipients may wear the corresponding square knot, with a white strand over a red strand, on the BSA uniform.[1]

Using the United States military as the model, silver awards are the highest awards in the BSA.[2][3]


Silver Buffalo award and citation presented to the Unknown Scout

The concept of the Silver Buffalo was based on the Silver Wolf Award of the Boy Scout Association.[4] The buffalo pendant was designed by A. Phimister Proctor. A red-white-red ribbon bar was introduced in 1934 for informal uniform wear. In 1946, ribbon bars were replaced by the current knot insignia.[5]

During the first presentation in 1926, twenty-two awards were presented in a particular order determined by Chief Scout Executive James E. West. Since then, the awards have been presented on an annual basis in alphabetical order. The first Silver Buffalo Award was conferred upon Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement and Chief Scout of the World.[6] This award is represented by a small buffalo statue in Gilwell Park. The second went to the Unknown Scout who inspired William D. Boyce to form the BSA. In 1928, the World War I soldier buried in the Tomb of the Unknowns was awarded the Silver Buffalo for distinguished service to America's youth.[7]

Six Medal of Honor recipients have received the Silver Buffalo: The Unknown Soldier of WWI 1928, Charles Lindbergh 1928, Richard Evelyn Byrd 1929, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. 1934, Eddie Rickenbacker 1944, and Douglas MacArthur 1963.[citation needed]

Three of the 28 Congressional Space Medal of Honor recipients have received the Silver Buffalo: John Glenn 1965, Neil Armstrong 1970, and Jim Lovell 1992.[citation needed]

Five father/son pairs have earned the Silver Buffalo, Mortimer L. Schiff 1926 and John M. Schiff 1943, John Randolph Donnell 1958 and John R. Donnell Jr. 1990, J. Willard Marriott 1980 and J.W. Marriott, Jr. 1994, George H. W. Bush 1990 and George W. Bush 2002 and R. Lawry Hunsaker 2004 and Russ Hunsaker 2013. Additionally, five husband/wife pairs have earned the Silver Buffalo, Ronald Reagan 1982 and Nancy Reagan 1988, Wayne M. Perry 2006 and Christine Perry 2016, Edward Arnold 2011 and Jeanne Arnold 2013, George F. Francis, III 2001 Elaine Smith Francis 2013, and Justin D. (Dan) McCarthy 2012 and Carol McCarthy 2017.[citation needed]

Three Chief Justices of the Supreme Court have been awarded the Silver Buffalo: #10 William Howard Taft 1927, #11 Charles Evans Hughes 1944, and #15 Warren E. Burger 1988.[citation needed]

Fifteen Presidents of the United States have been awarded the Silver Buffalo: #27 William Howard Taft 1927, #30 Calvin Coolidge 1929, #31 Herbert Hoover 1930, #32 Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1930, #33 Harry Truman 1950, #34 Dwight D. Eisenhower 1946, #36 Lyndon B. Johnson 1964, #37 Richard Nixon 1971, #38 Gerald Ford 1975 (also a Distinguished Eagle Scout), #39 Jimmy Carter 1978, #40 Ronald Reagan 1982, #41 George H. W. Bush 1990, #42 Bill Clinton 1997, #43 George W. Bush 2002, and #44 Barack Obama 2013.[citation needed]

Eight Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been awarded the Silver Buffalo: #7 Heber J. Grant 1938, #8 George Albert Smith 1934, #9 David O. McKay 1953, #11 Harold B. Lee 1963, #12 Spencer W. Kimball 1984, #13 Ezra Taft Benson 1954, #15 Gordon B. Hinckley 1994, and #16 Thomas S. Monson 1978.[8]

For fifty years the Silver Buffalo was awarded only to men until LaVern W. Parmley became the first woman to receive the honor in 1976. As of 2021, 826 awards have been made (822 individual recipients and the 2001 award to The Oak Ridge Boys which makes for 826 distinct recipients).

As this is a national BSA award, it cannot be awarded twice to any person.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Distinguished Service Awards". Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original on March 19, 2008.
  2. ^ "Silver Outranks Gold". SageVenture. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  3. ^ Wendell, Bryan (April 14, 2011). Why Does Silver Outrank Gold in Scouting Awards?. Bryan on Scouting. Ask the Expert. Scouting Magazine.
  4. ^ Rowan, Edward L (2005). To Do My Best: James E. West and the History of the Boy Scouts of America. Las Vegas International Scouting Museum. ISBN 0-9746479-1-8.
  5. ^ Crowl, George. "Illustrated History of BSA Square Knot Evolution and Private Issues" (PDF). SageVenture.
  6. ^ "Silver Buffalo". Time. May 10, 1926. Archived from the original on February 8, 2007.
  7. ^ "Silver Buffalo Award Winners". Boy Scouts of America.
  8. ^ "Significant BSA Awards Presented To LDS Members". LDS-BSA Relationships Office. Archived from the original on July 17, 2014.