Updated: Dec 27, 2020
A 10-year-old Orange County Buddhist Church member has been awarded
the Boy Scouts of America Medal of Honor — an extremely rare medal —
for saving the life of his mother.
Fifth-grader Nathan Shibata, a Webelos 2 Cub Scout Pack 578 member,
was presented the award on Oct. 2 by Orange County Council Scout
Executive Russell Etzenhouser at the pack meeting via Zoom.
The award stemmed from a Dec. 20, 2019, incident at the Shibata
household. On that day, the Shibata family — father Craig, mother Kyran
and Nathan — were having dinner. Nathan was sitting next to his mom
when he called out to Craig, saying, “Mommy does not look good.”
It turned out that Kyran was in mild respiratory distress, but was conscious
and breathing. While waiting for paramedics and an off-duty firefighter
neighbor to arrive, Nathan was able to overcome his fear and clear his
mother’s airway. His quick response saved his mother’s life.
According to Craig Shibata, who is the current Pack Quartermaster and
Advancement Chair of Nathan's Pack 578, Nathan learns about the
Dharma and the Nembutsu at the Orange County Buddhist Church, where
his family are long-standing Sangha members.
Robert Tanaka, chair of the BCA National Buddhist Committee on
Scouting, issued a statement congratulating Nathan Shibata for earning the
Boy Scouts of America Medal of Honor.
Tanaka said that the Medal of Honor is one of BSA’s four life-saving or
meritorious action awards and is extremely rare. As an example, a BSA
council in Northern California has 16,000 registered Scouts, and each year
about 500 Scouts earn the prestigious Eagle Scout Award. But only one or
two Scouts earn one of the BSA life-saving awards every other year.
“The NBCS is very proud of Nathan’s amazing achievement and most
grateful that he saved his mother’s life,” Tanaka said.