Every year an active duty and reserve officer are recognized for their role in mentoring personnel toward their highest potential and leadership that exemplifies the Coast Guard’s core values.
Nominees must be a mentor, a pioneer, a leader, an honorable shipmate, someone who commands respect and be a “do-as-I-do” kind of leader.
Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Jacobs’ selfless devotion to others resulted in his selection of this year’s active duty Capt. John G. Witherspoon Inspirational Leadership Award.
“Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Jacobs is one of the most talented officers I have had the privilege of working with during my 19-year career in the United States Coast Guard,” said Cmdr. Michael Lachowicz, engineering officer at Air Station Clearwater, and Jacobs’ supervisor. “I am so happy to see his years of dedicated servant leadership recognized in such a prestigious award and on such a grand stage. I am so proud of Jeff’s accomplishments, and I know that I will continue to see his amazing and profound impact for the Coast Guard in the future.”
Jacobs was born and raised in South Hill, Va. He attended the College of William & Mary where he obtained a Bachelor’s of Art in Government and History. He enlisted in the Coast Guard in 2002, and his first unit was the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable, a 210-foot Reliance-class medium endurance cutter homeported in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He attended Gunner’s Mate class “A” school in 2003. He was selected for Officer Candidate School and was commissioned in 2004. After, he attended Naval Flight Training at Naval Air Station Pensacola and earned his Naval Aviator Wings of Gold in 2006. He has since served at Air Station’s Savannah, Cape Cod and Clearwater. He will be going to Air Station Sitka, Alaska, in June 2018 to serve as the aeronautical engineering officer.
“The Coast Guard mission inspires me,” said Jacobs. “I cannot think of a greater organization that is committed to preserving the environment and helping others in need. Each day, our men and women are confronted with challenges that require levels of commitment and devotion to duty that most cannot comprehend. It takes a special group of people to achieve that level of commitment day-in and day-out, 24-hours a day, 365-days a year.”
Jacobs was one of the many to deploy to Puerto Rico to support relief efforts following the passage of Hurricane Maria. Now, as the anniversary of the 2017 hurricane season approaches, Jacobs is being honored for the leadership he displayed during the most challenging of times. As the senior aviator, he was charged with leading a detachment of two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and 12 personnel from Air Station Clearwater who deployed to Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico.
“Once we arrived, we realized just how devastating the storm was to the island of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Jacobs. “With limited food, water, berthing and communications, we assisted the air station, Sector San Juan, the Coast Guard’s 7th District and a host of other Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defensepartners.”
Jacobs understood the enormity of the situation. He attempted to alleviate the burden placed on those who were stationed and had been through so much. Coordinating maintenance and flight operations with no cell phone or computer access proved to be a challenge, so his team quickly forged relationships to assist with mission execution. This included communications assistance from a the Coast Guard Communications Commandfrom Chesapeake, Virginia, airborne tasking from DOD and DHS fixed-wing controllers, lodging from local vendors and a host of other intangibles from air station and Sector San Juan personnel.