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.
- Exemplifies the Coast Guard core values of honor (integrity), respect
(esteem of junior and seniors), and devotion to duty (ethical behavior).
- Fosters a culture of diversity through inclusion and commitment
- Mentors both junior and senior personnel toward their highest potential
- Leads and motivates by example to ensure mission execution excellence
Recommendations: Commandant (CG-12C) solicits nominations via ALCOAST
message annually. Award period will be adjusted based on calendar year
Specific Nomination Guidelines -
Nomination Deadline has passed
- 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 signature endorsement from the recommended members
chain of command must be included on memo.
- Nominations must be forwarded to Commandant (CG-12C) via
the chain of command. Note: If a commanding officer is
nominated, the next level command shall endorse the
- 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. Note: 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 and endorsements
may be sent by email to
Please save PDF under the naming convention:
- 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, Washington DC 20593-7907. Note: Commands using this
method should allow sufficient time for security screening
to meet the
- 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 2/18/2015