Commandant (DCMS-DPR-5)
U.S. Coast Guard
2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE
Stop 7907
Washington, D.C. 20593-7907

Captain David H. Jarvis Leadership Award

David Henry Jarvis was appointed to the Revenue Cutter Service in 1881, and served until his retirement as a captain in 1905. He spent the majority of his career in Alaska and the Bering Sea. His most famous adventure came during an expedition to save the men of a whaling fleet that had become trapped in the ice off Point Barrow, Alaska, during the winter of 1897-1898.

Jarvis, then a first-lieutenant, led a three-man rescue team consisting of Second-Lieutenant Ellsworth P. Bertholf and Dr. J. S. Call of the U. S. Public Health Service, with a herd of about 400 reindeer, across 1,500 miles of tundra and pack-ice to Point Barrow. They arrived after a journey of 99 days and thereby saved more than 300 men from starvation. They had completed the longest rescue mission ever undertaken in Coast Guard history. On 28 June 1902, Congress, in response to a request from President William McKinley to recognize officially what he called a "victory of peace," awarded Gold Medals of Honor to Jarvis and the other two members of what became known as the Overland Relief Expedition.

The Navy League annually presents the Jarvis award recognizing an outstanding Coast Guard officer. The awards are separate and distinct from the military decorations and awards program. The Captain David H. Jarvis Inspirational Leadership award recognizes the Coast Guard Officer who has made outstanding contributions to the high standards of competence and leadership traditions in the Coast Guard.

Award Criteria

The Jarvis award is for regular active duty members only. The nominee must have:

(1) Consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership skills which motivate and inspire personnel to strive for excellence and achieve measurable results that contributed to the success of the Coast Guard.

(2) Possessed the ability to create and maintain a positive culture where the differences of all personnel are respected, so that all can achieve their full potential and maximize their contributions to Coast Guard missions.

(3) Acted with strategic intent to ensure optimization of resources, influence the success of major operations or programs, and achieve operational excellence.

(4) Guided, coached, or mentored others to reach new levels of performance.

Nomination Deadline

The deadline to submit nominations is Wednesday, February 14, 2024.

Nomination Guidelines 

  • Nominations shall 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. Any package that exceeds two pages will not be considered.
  • The memorandum nominating the member shall be signed by the member's officer-in-charge or commanding officer. A "signature endorsement", per The Coast Guard Correspondence Manual (COMDTINST M5216.4C), is required by the first Flag or SES in the nominated member's chain of command. New Page Endorsements will not be accepted. 
  • The nomination should identify specific examples and supporting information on how the nominee exemplifies each of the award criteria by using impact statements explaining how the member inspired others and influenced favorable outcomes. Nominations should directly address individual leadership methodologies and climate rather than simply reporting unit accomplishments.
  • Nominations can be sent by email to Please save PDF under the naming convention: Last Name, First Initial. Year_Name of Award (for example: Coastie, J. 2022_Jarvis)
  • A selection panel will review the nominations and make recommendations to the Commandant for approval. All primary and alternate winner selections will be vetted by CGIS prior to Commandant approval.


Award Presentation

The winner will attend the National Navy League Convention to be recognized and receive a certificate and inscribed watch.

Additional Information

A mentoring spot in the TRACECEN Cape May Recruit Company Mentor Program is reserved for the Jarvis award winner.