While we’d all agree that achievements earned through Scouting are worthy of being celebrated, Eagle being the ultimate goal, but did you know there is but another award an Eagle Scout can earn? It’s so rare, that even the most tenured leaders in Scouting may not even be aware of it. Unlike the other awards and recognitions one can earn through the BSA, this one is reserved for those Eagle Scouts who make profound contributions to the world. It is reserved to recognize Eagle Scouts who achieve extraordinary national-level recognition, fame, or eminence within their profession and/or service to the nation and have a strong record of voluntary service to their community.
Between 1912 to 2019, 2,598,999, Scouts had earned the rank of Eagle. Since its introduction in 1969, the DESA has been awarded to a mere 2,150 Eagle Scouts by 2015. Only about 1 in 1,200 of all Eagle Scouts have been presented this prestigious award. As such, the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA) is the National Eagle Scout Association’s (NESA) highest honor for Eagle Scouts.
Stringent criteria begin with a minimum of 25 years “Time in Service” from the official record date an Eagle rank was earned. That requirement was determined by the average time most nominees need to establish a career, earn peer recognition, awards, fame/eminence, and other factors that are considered for DESA selection.
A national committee comprised of Distinguished Eagle Scouts carefully reviews all nominations and determines selections. When time permits, the committee may provide feedback on nominations that may receive further, future consideration.
Recognizing the Award
First introduced in 1969 and awarded by the National Eagle Scout Association, the award consists of a gold eagle medallion, identical to the silver medallion on the Eagle Scout medal, but is suspended from a red, white, and blue neck ribbon as opposed to the scroll pin and ribbon suspension on the regular medal. The Distinguished Eagle Scout medal is worn in place of the regular Eagle Scout medal for Eagle Scout-related ceremonies. The recipient is also presented with a 3-dimensionally engraved bronze plaque. A small gold eagle device or pin may be worn on the recipient’s Eagle Scout square knot emblem that is worn in place of the medal for everyday wear. The award entitles the recipient to be called a “Distinguished Eagle Scout”, along with automatic admission into the National Eagle Scout Association Board of Regents.
Notable honorees include motion picture director Steven Spielberg, astronaut Neil Armstrong, former president Gerald Ford, Nobel Prize winners Peter Agre and Dudley Herschbach, businessmen Sam Walton and Ross Perot, Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, actor Ozzie Nelson, financier John C. Whitehead, and Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among others. Prior to the establishment of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, the first and only “gold Eagle Scout badge” was awarded to Dan Beard at the Second National Training Conference of Scout Executives held in 1922 in Blue Ridge, North Carolina
Local Honorees of the Alamo Area Council:
Mark Mays – 2022
Charles Rockwood – 2017
Jack Richmond – 1998
Franklin Spears – 1991
General Robert (Bob) Herres – 1990
Percy Sutton – 1976
Lewis Kayton – 1970