Due to the success and growth of the Order throughout the nation, the National Executive Committee adopted a new award to acknowledge members who had played integral roles for this important expansion, their belief in program, and their commitment to plan and promote early area and national meetings.
At the 1940 National Meeting, held at Camp Twin Echo, National Secretary H. Lloyd Nelson formally introduced the award to attendees. Former National Chief Joseph H. Brinton who served as the selection committee chairman reported,
The success of the Order of the Arrow today is due to the services of a great many Brothers, past and present, who made this statement of our Ritual a reality. As one looks back through the 25-year history of the Order, he is more and more impressed with this fact.
The award was a cast silver arrowhead with an arrow aimed through it upward over the left shoulder, suspended on a dark green ribbon to serve as a reminder of the great outdoors in which the program was centered. The first selection committeemen were Joseph H. Brinton (1936 National Lodge Chief), Joseph A. Brunton (1938 National Lodge Chief, Chief Scout Executive from 1960-1967), and George W. Chapman (the first Chief of Wimachtendienk).
In the early years of the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) most of the recipients were either professional Scouters or adult members. The first 11 recipients with their original citation in the meeting minutes included:
Brother E. Urner Goodman from Bondville, VT:
As Founder of the Order of the Arrow, through his ability, wisdom, and foresight, his vision of service to others was transformed into a National Honor Brotherhood which has been a positive influence in the lives of the thousands of boys who have been members and which has helped to build better Scouting spirit in Scout camps. Ever willing, his sincere interest, his able judgment and his loyal cooperation have continued through the years.
Brother Carroll A. Edson from Springfield, MA:
As the Co-Founder of the Order of the Arrow, his interest, help and enthusiasm made a great contribution to the Founders’ vision. Through his leadership, the simple and essential plan of selection members was developed. His valued suggestions and able guidance provided the solid foundation on which the Order of today has grown.
Brother Dr. William M. Hinkle from Philadelphia, PA:
As Chairman of the Committee which prepared the first Ritual, his grasp of the nature of the Order is revealed in the beauty and simplicity of the original Rituals which he has left as a heritage and guide. A wise counselor whose sincere interest and honest effort meant much to the Order.
Brother William A. Stumpp from New York, NY:
As National Chief in the early years, he ably and successfully guided the National Lodge. His wise discretion and forceful perseverance were used in generous portions to advance the Order.
Brother Robert T. Henderson from Reading, PA:
His stimulating thoughts and inspiring leadership during the transition period from the Grand Council to the National Lodge were of inestimable value to the development of the organization of the Order. His contributions to the Rituals, especially the beautiful and significant closing ceremony were outstanding.
Brother Harvey A. Gordon from New York, NY (Posthumous):
As National Secretary for a long period during the early years of the Order, his valuable experience, untiring efforts, and mature judgment were of inestimable value. Steadfast, sincere, enthusiastic, his life was a symbol of service to others.
Brother Alfred C. Nichols, Jr. from New York, NY:
His leadership during a critical period in the life of the Order when he ably demonstrated his belief in and tirelessly worked for the preservation of the Order was outstanding. His continued service on a national basis is testimony of his early and complete acceptance of the statement, 'The servant of all is the greatest of all.'
Brother Joseph N. Pattison, III from Philadelphia, PA:
As National Treasurer for a long period which the Order grew considerably, thus increasing the service required, his tireless and unselfish efforts were of great assistance in furthering the Order. His cooperation in developing procedure, manuals, and sources of supplies has been of great value.
Brother Thomas G. Cairns from Philadelphia, PA:
As National Chief during the period of formal adoption of the Order by the National Council, Boy Scouts of America, with complete revision of the entire organization and literature, his inspiring leadership and untiring efforts were exceptionally outstanding.
Brother James E. West from New York, NY:
By his constant emphasis of the importance of the Scout Oath and Law as a vital force in the lives of Scouts, and the recognition of this in the camping program, he unconsciously paved the way for the establishment of the Order. By his recognition and support by recommendation, the Order became an integral part of the program of Senior Scouting. His influence upon the thinking of the Order has helped to make it achieve national proportions.
Brother H. Lloyd Nelson from Philadelphia, PA:
He has served with distinction as National Secretary since 1933 and his untiring efforts have contributed greatly to its growth during this period. His intense interest, loyal cooperation, and wise counsel have always been outstanding.