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> updated 15/08/11
National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) 'dangle'

This is a rare item nowadays: This is the National Eagle Scout Association's 'dangle' or ribbon pin; the Order of the Arrow has several. Each is explained here within this page.


Boy Scout Insignia Right Front Ribbon Pins (Dangles)

Ribbon Pins ("Dangles")

This page originally spoke to the ribbon pin, or "dangle", associated with the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA). I have since included the ribbon pins which also belong to the Order of the Arrow to answer two questions: "Who wears them?" and "Why isn't there a square knot for the Founders' Award and other special awards with the OA?" Finally, this page will address briefly *other* items which may "dangle" from the right pocket of the uniform shirt -- and why.

A "ribbon pin" or "dangle" is an object which hangs from the POCKET BUTTON on either the right or left side. A separate page within the Badge and Uniform Site addresses the special Powder Horn training program and it's emblem which is worn over the LEFT pocket of the field uniform.

NESA Ribbon Pin ("Dangle"):

Steve asked:


That's one of the most closely-guarded "secrets" that the BSA's insignia arena has kept. and I'm now going to reveal it to you...and everyone else!

The story is this: Back in the middle 80s, the BSA's National Eagle Scout Association decided to produce a series of items specifically targeted to its members. Included in those items was a NESA ribbon, which is a red, white and blue ribbon on which is suspended a silver charm with the NESA logo.

National Eagle Scout Association ribbon The ORIGINAL intent was for the item to be worn suspended from the LEFT POCKET BUTTON in a similar manner as the Order of the Arrow (and later the Founders' Award) ribbons are suspended. On the ribbon of the NESA ribbon would go the Eagle Scout's Palms if earned, or the small Eagle Scout pin to signify that the NESA member received one of the earlier National Presidents' Scoutmaster Awards (a plaque which was awarded one per BSA Regional Area to an "outstanding Scoutmaster").

Initially, the BSA's Supply Division (which controls the Uniform and Insignia Committee) and the Boy Scout Division approved the new item, and it was quickly placed into production. At the same time, the BSA's Insignia Guide was changed to remove reference to the placement of the Palms on the Eagle Scout square knot.

Then, about two or three months BEFORE the ribbon was to be finally approved and released to the field, the Uniform and Insignia Committee Advisor changed his mind, stating that "that's part of the reason why we have the square knot!" and the idea of the NESA ribbon for the Eagle Palms was quietly shoved over into a corner.

When the Ribbon was released, because of the confusion, the only description was that "it is to suspend from the pocket of the NESA member". Which side...the RIGHT side, where the OA ribbon is being currently suspended from in many Lodges; or the LEFT side, as originally thought up?

This went on for about two years or so, Steve, and in 1992, the NESA finally decided that the best place for it would be on the right side with the OA ribbon. That's where it goes *today*.

Officially, Steve, NOTHING is to be attached to the ribbon; unofficially, those holders of the NESA Scoutmaster Award and the National Presidents' Scoutmaster Award can place the silver Eagle on the ribbon; likewise, unoffically, those holders of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award can place the gold Eagle pin on the ribbon (and those few holders of both awards can place both Eagle pins on the ribbon).

The ribbon is worn informally and formally at the member's discretion. It can be worn in addition to or in the place of the Order of the Arrow or the Founders' Award ribbons.


The Order of the Arrow (OA for short) is the Boy Scouts of America's national honorary camping and service society. The OA exists to support local Councils and in particular, it's outdoor and camping programs.

Daniel Gordon wrote and asked me:

"I received an OA red and white pendant when inducted. Am I still eligible to wear this on an adult scout uniform? It went on the right pocket hung from the button."

Not only are you still "eligible" to wear the OA "dangle" or "universal arrow ribbon" as it's officially called... but you SHOULD WEAR the item. It -- not the various OA flaps -- denotes you as a member of the Order of the Arrow.

Members of the Order are primariliy identified by wearing the Order of the Arrow "Universal dangle" or "Universal Arrow ribbon" as shown here. This emblem, a small silver arrow suspended from a red and white ribbon attached to a button loop, is worn suspended from the right pocket button by Arrowmen who are or are not current with their annual dues to a local Council's OA Lodge. Order of the Arrow (OA) ribbon Before the colorful OA flaps made their appearances in the late 50s and early 60s, the "OA Pocket Pin" as it is called officially was THE WAY that OA members were IDed.

Later onward, dues-paid members of a particular OA lodge may wear a distinctive OA lodge flap, representing membership as part of that Lodge, over the right pocket of the field uniform. Arrowmen may wear both Universal Arrow ribbon and lodge flap together; OR just the Universal Arrow Ribbon without a lodge flap on a field uniform. And when the "patch police" pulls you over and asks "where's your OA flap?" you can proudly point to your Arrow ribbon and tell them "this is all you need to know..." as you smile and walk away...

Vigil Honor members of the OA may wear the small Vigil Honor pin on the red and white ribbon.

Order of the Arrow Founders' Award Ribbon Pin ("dangle"):

Order of the Arrow Founders' Award

Order of the Arrow Founders' Award ribbon

(both items were provided by Scott Valcourt (sav@unh.edu) -- Thanks!!)

The Founders' Award was introduced during the 1981 National Order of the Arrow Conference, or NOAC. The Founder's Award was created to honor and recognize those Arrowmen who have given outstanding service to their lodge. The award is reserved for an Arrowmen who demonstrates to fellow Arrowmen that he or she memorializes in his or her everyday life the spirit of achievement as described by founder E. Urner Goodman and cofounder Carroll A. Edison.

The actual award is a bronze medallion (as shown above), a mounting pedestal, a special certificate, and the Founders' Award ribbon pin or "dangle" as shown above. The ribbon pin is a gold-plated arrow suspended from a red ribbon attached to a button loop. The ribbon pin is worn IN THE PLACE OF the standard "universal Arrow ribbon" on the right pocket of the field uniform shirt.

Note that there IS NOT ANY FORM OF OTHER UNIFORM ITEM (to include a "square knot") for this award -- because the "uniform item" IS the ribbon pin suspended from the right pocket of the uniform pocket.

Vigil Honor members of the Order who are receipients of the Founders Award may wear the small Vigil Honor pin on the red Founders' Award ribbon.

Order of the Arrow 75th Anniversary Acheivement Award ribbon ("dangle")

In 1990, the Order of the Arrow departed from patches which would be worn on the sash and instead decided to create a special ribbon to be worn by Arrowmen who completed the requirements for the Award. The 75th Anniversary Award is identical to the traditional Universal Arrow ribbon except that for the gold turtle and arrow symbolic of the first OA Lodge and the emblem representing that lodge.

Order of the Arrow 75th Anniversary Acheivement Award ribbon with Vigil Honor pin attached

As with other ribboned awards, this emblem if earned takes the place of the Universal ribbon pin; and Vigil Honor members wear the Vigil Pin attached to the ribbon as shown here.

Bob Pettitt wrote to me and added: "In the OA National Bulletin, after the 75th anniversary of OA, it was posted that if you have the Founder’s Award and received the 75th Anniversary Achievement Award you could put the 75th arrow with turtle on the red founders ribbon to make a combined award." He is absolutely correct. The Order of the Arrow Council of Chiefs authorized the "combination" because the orignal design of the pin called for the usage of the gold turtle and arrow totem with the red ribbon. Thanks Bob!!

Order of the Arrow Arrowman Service Award Ribbon Pin ("dangle"):

Order of the Arrow Arrowman Service Award

This award was available to be earned by Arrowmen between 2001 and 2003. It is no longer available to be earned; however holders may continue to wear the ribbon ("dangle") pin if earned.

The award was intended to recognize Arrowmen for continued service to their local Council Lodge and to their community. The award consisted of a special compass rose and arrow attached to a white ribbon and button attachment at the top.

The award was designed to be earned a total of three times; subsequent awards were denoted by the addition of silver (second) and bronze (third) compass rose emblems to the ribbon.

Those Arrowmen who were called to active military duty overseas during 2003 was eligible for a one year extension in earning the Arrowman Service Award. They had until December 31st, 2004 to complete the requirements. For all others, the Arrowman Service Award ended December 31st, 2003.

Like other Order of the Arrow "dangles", the Arrowman Service Award replaces the "universal arrow ribbon"; additionally, Vigil Honor members may wear the Vigil Honor pin on the white ribbon. There was NO OTHER official uniform insignia items authorized with this award.

More historical information from the OA's official website on the OA's Arrowman Service Award at http://www.oa-bsa.org/misc/anr/asa/

More historical information from the OA's official website on the OA's Leadership in Service Awards, which ran from 2004-2007, at http://www.oa-bsa.org/misc/anr/lis/leadinservice.htm

And about those "mini sashes and OA knots..."

Gene Peterson wrote and asked:

My lodge sells these little mini sashes 1 x 4 inch and I think you can get them on quartermaster.com. Are these to be in lieu of the ribbon on the button or addition to? and which side would they be worn on?

Minisashes (left to right: Ordeal, Brotherhood, Vigil); if worn, they are worn CENTERED ON THE RIGHT POCKET and NOT suspended from the pocket

Officially, neither. They are designed to be worn centered on the right pocket because it is considered a "temporary emblem". I know that they have a button hole on the emblem; and I am aware that the Order of the Arrow stages (Ordeal, Brotherhood, and Vigil) are permanent; but the BSA says that only the various "Arrow dangles" (the standard one that you wear; the OA Founders Award dangle for those who have received that award; the Service Award dangle with or without pins; or the 75th Anniversary Award dangle (which is what I wear) -- all which are illustrated above ) are the only OA things which officially are to be suspended from the pocket button.

Last OA question, a knot question. The OA arrow "knots" (not the official service knot) -- based on your previous explanation re the wood badge, do you feel the same about the un-official OA knot's? I've got a lodge flap and ribbon and maybe a mini-sash. OA arrow knot, overkill?

Very much so, and no, they are not official. Why would you wear a Brotherhood cloth emblem when you normally don't wear your Brotherhood sash? The only time you wear the sash -- the only time that someone knows that you're a Brotherhood member as opposed to an Ordeal member -- is during OA activities and events.

Remember that "less is more" and that although you're an OA member and Wood Badger, there's ways to show those items on the uniform without going into overkill mode. The flap and arrow pin says a lot more than any cloth patch.

More information on the Order of the Arrow items are found at this page as well as from the official Boy Scouts of America's Order of the Arrow website.


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Credits: Scans courtesy of Mike Walton

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