Boy Scout Jack Pape wins 2011 American Spirit Award

Jack Pape, a 17-year-old Boy Scout from Omaha, Neb.

The voting’s over, and the results are in.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation announced today that Jack Pape, a high school junior from Omaha, Neb., has won its American Spirit Award.

At a special ceremony on Friday, Pape will receive the award, which recognizes “extraordinary skill, professionalism, and a spirit of excellence in a challenging situation.”

I first told you about Pape and the other three finalists for the award back in January when public voting was open. In the post, you read that in 2008, Pape provided first aid for those injured in a tornado at Little Sioux Scout Ranch. A year later, he performed CPR on a young boy who was drowning at a hotel swimming pool.

Even though he twice saved others from harm, Pape remains humble about his actions.

“When I first heard about the American Spirit Award, I was really surprised to be nominated,” he said. “It seemed like kind of a big deal. I’m just a normal teenager. I was scared when I was faced with these situations, but I didn’t think about it. I just did what needed to be done. There wasn’t really any other option.”

There were plenty of options for American Spirit Award candidates, though. Our country is full of outstanding Scouts, but a nationwide search narrowed the field down to four finalists: T.J. Ellwein, Brad Garr, Jacob Netzel, and Pape.

Selecting a winner from those four wasn’t easy, but Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation members, Boys’ Life magazine staff, and online voters teamed up to choose Pape as the honoree. Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive, helped put it into perspective.

“The millions of youth in our program do honor to the name of Scouting through their acts of service to others and through their leadership,” Mazzuca said. “We applaud the courage and service above self shown by Jack Pape and are proud to join with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation in recognizing this achievement.”

The timing of the announcement comes during the confluence of two anniversaries: the 150th year of the Congressional Medal of Honor and the 100th birthday of Boys’ Life. In fact, Boys’ Life will feature Pape in an upcoming issue, and he’ll serve as an ambassador for the magazine during the rest of its 100-year anniversary celebration.

Pape and his parents, Anne and Jerry, will participate in the National Medal of Honor Day activities on Friday at Arlington National Cemetery. After that, Pape gets honored at a special assembly back at his high school.

Please join me in congratulating Jack Pape on this honor that will last a lifetime.

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.