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.
(1) Exemplifies the Coast Guard core values of honor, respect, and devotion
(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
(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.
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
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
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
. 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.
The award will be presented at an appropriate ceremony at the
district command closest to the winner.