“He is on the threshold of a great adventure. The ship on which he is about to embark is God’s greatest gift– Life. Fortified by his experience in Scouting, he can plot his course, unfurl his sails, stand by the wheel and whether the winds be fair or foul, look forward to a happy and successful voyage.”

Thomas J. Keane, then Director of Senior Scouting, in his pre-1939 speech “The Badge of the Sea Scout Quartermaster– what it Means.”

The Origins of the Quartermaster Award

The following brief history of the Quartermaster Award has been complied from a review of “Scouting” magazine and the Sea Scout Manuals. Special thanks go to Commodore Bruce Johnson for his dedication in conducting the detailed research for the origins of the Quartermaster Award.

The Quartermaster Award was apparently introduced in 1925.  This coincides with Commander Thomas Keane becoming the Acting Sea Scout Director.  The Quartermaster medal itself was approved at the end of 1930 and probably first introduced in 1931.  Commander Keane is reported to have designed the Quartermaster medal himself.


Carl Shellhorn being presented his Quartermaster Award. Carl would become the Skipper of the Chaser in Napa, California in the early 1990s. He is viewed today as one of the best skippers of his time for his dedication in helping other Sea Scouts.

The Sea Scout Manual, 5th edition, 1st printing (1925) was the first manual to describe the rank of Quartermaster.  The first mention of a Quartermaster in “Scouting” magazine was in the description of the National Flagship “Old Ironsides” crew from Chicago in the May 1929 issue.

Admiral Nimitz presenting San Francisco Sea Scout Charles Elliott the Quartermaster Award in the late 1940s. Charles earned his QM with Bob Murrary. Both are lifelong friends who each served as the "best man" at the other's wedding.

The Quartermaster medal itself was first pictured in the January 1931 issue of “Scouting” magazine.  An illustration of the Quartermaster Award first appeared in the Sea Scout Manual in 1939.  The bar across the top of the Award was added in the late 1990s.

Quartermaster-Eagle Scout Jason Lawrence with his proud parents in 2005.