OCBC Boy, 10, Awarded Rare BSA Honor for Saving Mother’s Life

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.

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