Each year the Coast Guard presents the Commodore Ellsworth P. Bertholf Award to a member of Congress who exemplifies the spirit of Bertholf by making substantial contributions in support of the men and women of the United States Coast Guard and enhances the ability of the service to carry out its missions. This year’s recipient is Rep. John “Judge” Carter (R-Texas).
The award is named after Commodore Ellsworth P. Bertholf, who throughout his career – which included the legendary Overland Expedition – exhibited courage without equal, and in 1911 he was named commandant of the Revenue Cutter Service. Shortly after assuming his leadership position, a presidential report was released recommending the complete dissolution of the Revenue Cutter Service and the transfer of the U.S. Life-Saving Service. Bertholf was thrust into a struggle to save his beloved service.
Bertholf spoke powerfully to citizens, Congress and the administration about his vision of a service with unparalleled value to the nation; he spoke of the Coast Guard as we have come to know it today – a military, multi-mission and maritime service. In 1915, his determination and advocacy led to the merger of the Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service to form the present-day United States Coast Guard. Bertholf was named the first commandant, and the new service prospered under his leadership.
Carter has exemplified such commitment and conviction to the USCG through his work in Congress and was presented the Bertholf award by Commandant Paul F. Zukunft at a ceremony on Capitol Hill.
The sponsor and presenter of this year’s Bertholf Award is the National Capital Council of the Navy League.