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Office of Leadership (CG-12C)

Captain John G. Witherspoon Inspirational Leadership Award

Witherspoon was a sailor, a mentor and a pioneer. He was also a leader, an honorable man, someone who commanded respect and a "do-as-I-do" kind of leader. After a stint in the Army, Witherspoon joined the Coast Guard in 1963. He advanced to the rate of quartermaster first class and then was selected for Officer Candidate School. Witherspoon graduated with honors and was commissioned as an Ensign in June 1971.

Upon taking command of CGC Mallow in 1982, Witherspoon became the second African-American officer to command a Coast Guard cutter. He was the first African-American to command a Coast Guard shore unit when he assumed command of the Houston/Galveston Vessel Traffic Service. Witherspoon later commanded CGCs Valiant and Dependable. Witherspoon was a kind, outgoing, generous, caring, down-to-earth, soft-spoken man who gently touched the lives of many, yet left a strong, lasting impression on everyone who knew him. In his memory, the Commandant established the Capt. John G. Witherspoon Inspirational Leadership Award.

This award annually recognizes the Coast Guard officer, active duty and reserve, who best exemplifies the Coast Guard’s core values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.

Eligibility Requirements

(1) Exemplifies the Coast Guard core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty.

(2) Demonstrates exceptional leadership competence, including the ability to gain genuine commitment from all levels of the organization.

(3) Displays a keen sense of ethical conduct and exhibits a high degree of personal integrity.

(4) Demonstrates sincere interest and concern for junior personnel by helping others reach their full potential.

(5) Motivates others to excel in mission performance.

(6) Is a positive role model and mentor.

(7) Fosters the spirit and intent of diversity.

(8) Is held in the highest esteem by seniors, peers, and juniors.

Recommendations: Commandant (CG-12C) solicits nominations via ALCOAST message annually. Award period will be adjusted based on fiscal year rotation as opposed to calendar year (January-December), due to awardees potentially being recognized at the State of the Coast Guard Address (SOCGA).

Specific Nomination Guidelines

Nominations may be submitted by any Coast Guard member or civilian employee in the form of a memorandum, not to exceed two pages. Each nomination must be typed using Times New Roman (12 point) font with one inch margins. A same page or new page endorsement from the recommended members chain of command must be included. Nominations must be forwarded to Commandant (CG-12C) via the chain of command. If a commanding officer is nominated, the next level command shall endorse the nomination. All recommendations must be received by TBD.

The nomination should identify specific examples and supporting information on how the nominee exemplifies each of the criteria established in section (a) by using action impact statements explaining how the member inspired others and influenced favorable outcomes. Feedback from previous selection panels continues to stress that nominations should directly address leadership methodologies and climate rather than simply reporting accomplishments. Scanned copies of signed nominations may be sent by email to Veronique Freeman. Address nominations mailed via USPS first class mail to Commandant (CG-12C), Office of Leadership, U.S. Coast Guard, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, Stop 7907, Washington DC 20593-7907. Commands using this method should allow sufficient time for security screening to meet the TBD deadline. A selection panel will review the nominations and make recommendations to the Assistant Commandant for Human Resources (CG-1) for approval.


Presentation: The award will be presented at an appropriate ceremony at the district command closest to the winner.
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Last Modified 10/29/2014