Silver Buffalo Award

Silver Buffalo Award

Medal and knot
Owner Boy Scouts of America
Country United States
Created 1926
Awarded for Noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth on a national basis
Recipients 764 (2016)
Buffalo Statue, donated to Gilwell Park by the Boy Scouts of America in 1926

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.


The award consists of a silver buffalo 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.

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

Four 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, and George H.W. Bush 1990 and George W. Bush 2002. Additionally, two husband/wife pairs have earned the Silver Buffalo, Ronald Reagan 1982 and Nancy Reagan 1988, and Wayne M. Perry 2006 and Christine Perry 2016.

Three Chief Justices of the Supreme Court have been awarded the Silver Buffalo.

Fourteen Presidents of the United States have been awarded the Silver Buffalo.

Eight Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been awarded the Silver Buffalo.

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 2016, 764 awards have been made (763 individual recipients and the 2001 award to the Oak Ridge Boys which makes for 767 distinct recipients.[8]

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

See also


  1. "Distinguished Service Awards". Boy Scouts of America.
  2. "Silver Outranks Gold". SageVenture.
  3. "Why Does Silver Outrank Gold in Scouting Awards?". Ask the Expert.
  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. "Illustrated History of BSA Square Knot Evolution and Private Issues" (PDF). SageVenture.
  6. "Silver Buffalo". Time. May 10, 1926.
  7. "Silver Buffalo Award Winners 1929-1926". Boy Scouts of America.
  8. "Distinguished Service Awards: The Silver Buffalo Award". Boy Scouts of America.
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