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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Jan. 14, 2021

Solicitation: Marine Environmental Response Awards

The U.S. Coast Guard is soliciting Wallace Award nominations for the 2020 calendar year.

All nominations must be received by March 2.

The Rear Adm. Sidney A. Wallace Award for Excellence in Marine Environmental Response and Preparedness (Wallace Award) provides recognition to members who represent the high standards of professionalism and initiative embodied by Rear Adm. Wallace throughout his career.

There are two categories: unit and individual.Sector Boston won the 2018 Wallace Award for its response to the accidental discharge of more than 6,500 gallons of dielectric fluid in the Mystic River. A crew from the Atlantic Strike Team survey boom deployed on the Mystic River near the Amelia Earhart Dam Monday, May 7, 2018. The boom is containing dielectric oil coming from nearby storm drains. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole J. Groll)

Unit Excellence Awards are available to units such as sectors, marine safety units, national strike teams and district response advisory teams.

Individual Excellence Awards recognize members for the following:

  • Excellence in the area of marine environmental response and preparedness.
  • Contributions to the Marine Environmental Response (MER) program.
  • Efforts to improve coordination and cooperation among all MER partner agencies, the industry and the public.
  • Professional conduct in carrying out program assignments.
  • Innovations in response and preparedness to pollution incidents.
  • Furthering the goals and objectives of the MER program.

Commands are highly encouraged to nominate Coast Guard individuals and units who innovated pollution preparedness and response activities during the pandemic. Throughout this year, Coast Guard members have shown resourcefulness, initiative and innovation in marine environmental response and preparedness during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, they have continued to ensure the safety of responders and the environment.

How to Apply

  • Nominations are limited to two pages of text, written in a standard memorandum format.
  • Email nominations as an attachment to Lt. Justin R. Valentino at or (202) 372-2248.

About Rear Adm. Wallace
Wallace served as the first program manager and chief of the Marine Environmental Protection (MEP) program and division. Under his leadership, the MEP program quickly achieved prominence in marine environmental response and preparedness among federal and state agencies, industry and non-governmental organizations. 

He implemented the provisions of the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1970, which, among other things, created the National Response System (NRS). Wallace was a frequent delegate to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and was a delegate to the International Marine Pollution Conference in 1973, which adopted the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the main international convention covering prevention of pollution to the marine environment from vessels. He later served as chair of IMO’s Marine Environment Committee during work on the international convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Cooperation (OPRC).