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

George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership Award

The George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership Award is named for the first commissioner of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. He led the U.S. Lighthouse Service through 25 years of modernization and expansion from 1910-1935. He exemplified inspirational leadership and his accomplishments during civilian service have stood the test of time.

He retired from the Lighthouse service in 1935 after 45 years of continuous years as a civil servant. He rose from a clerk in the Coast and Geodetic Survey, all the way to the Commissioner of the Lighthouse service in 1910, a capacity in which he served for 25 years. Mr. Putnam was known for demonstrating great courage of conviction by hiring most competent people, selected based “solely on their record and their merits” and without regard to patronage. He introduced benefits such as annual leave, paid sick leave, and a retirement system for Lighthouse service employees. His reach was global, having authored a number of articles for National Geographic Magazine.

Mr. Putnam was also an innovator, championing the use of radio aids to navigation and significantly increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the Lighthouse service. Mr. Putnam aptly summed up his career in the following statement, “I am glad that I devoted my life to public service. I am proud to have been able to help in making less hazardous the voyages of those who go down to the sea ships. I am happiest of all to have been associated with and to have been the leader of a group of men and women loyal in their obedience to the ideals of good government, devoted to the service of humanity”.


Award Criteria

This prestigious award annually recognizes the Coast Guard civilian employee (appropriated or non-appropriated) who best exemplifies the Coast Guard's Core Values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.

The employee must be a full time civilian employee of the Coast Guard and must have been employed by the Coast Guard for at least three years. Nomination packages must include employee’s grade level and years of service as a federal employee for the Coast Guard.

  1. Exemplified the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor (integrity), Respect (esteem of junior and seniors), and Devotion to duty (ethical behavior).
  2. Fostered a culture of diversity through inclusion and commitment.
  3. Mentored both junior and senior personnel toward their highest potential.
  4. Led and motivated by example to ensure mission execution excellence.

Nomination Deadline

The deadline to send in submissions 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 commanding officer. A "signature endorsement", per The Coast Guard Correspondence Manual (COMDTINST M5216.4C), is required by the first O6 in the nominated member's chain of command. If the nominated member's commanding officer is an O6 then a signature endorsement is NOT required.
  • 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 accomplishments.
  • Scanned copies of signed nominations and endorsements can be emailed to Please save PDF under the naming convention: Last Name, First Initial. Year_Name of Award (for example: Coastie, J. 2022_Putnam).


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.

The award will be presented at an appropriate ceremony at the district command closest to the winner.