Washington, D.C. –
Navy Legalman 1st Class Phillip Farris – who is assigned to Carrier Strike Group Twelve – has been named the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) 2021 Legalman of the Year.
Navy Legalman 1st Class Hailee Montes – who is assigned to Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) Northwest Detachment Hawaii – is the Naval Legal Service Command (NLSC) 2021 Service Member of the Year.
The awardees were recognized during a March 18 ceremony aboard the Washington Navy Yard in D.C. The Navy JAG, Vice Adm. Del Crandall, was joined at the event by Rear Adm. Chris French, who serves as the deputy JAG; Rear Adm. David Wilson, who serves as commander of NLSC; and Master Chief Legalman Brook Larkins, who serves both as the senior enlisted advisor to the JAG and the NLSC command master chief.
“I want to thank [the finalists] for their dedication and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we all know, these last two years have represented unprecedented challenges for our Navy and our nation … your leadership is more important than ever,” said Crandall. “I also want to recognize the significant positive impact each one of you has made across our Navy in your individual commands and for our JAG Corps team.”
“I am extremely proud of each of you, and of all that you have accomplished as warfighters in service of the Fleet. I charge each of you to keep it up, to continue to be the very best in all that you do,” Crandall added.
Farris and Montes were chosen from among six finalists for these prestigious awards. The finalists included Legalman 1st Class Tricia Timothy and Legalman 1st Class Bryan Lottes, who were nominated for the Legalman of the Year award; they also included Legalman 1st Class Shana Clark and Legalman 1st Class Dameon Smith, who were nominated for the Service Member of the Year award. The six finalists were selected in December 2021 from a wide pool of applicants.
Farris – who hails from Toms River, N.J. – served as Carrier Strike Group Twelve’s sole flag Legalman during the nominative period. He was responsible for addressing various legal matters for 70 staff members, and he assisted 24 Legal Officers and Clerks, as well as five Legalmen supporting the Strike Group’s 16 subordinate commands.
“This nomination validates the sacrifices made by family while working towards my professional goals,” said Farris. “Moreover, it reflects the great leadership I have received throughout the past fiscal year, and during my career. I could not have been a finalist without the support and direction of those above and below me. This honor means a lot to me, because I also am representing all of those people, as well.”
Farris’ commanding officer, Capt. David S. Collins, chief of staff at Carrier Strike Group Twelve, called Farris the best Legalman with whom he’s ever worked.
“He is a true subject-matter expert and a model Sailor, who positively impacts this command, our subordinates, and the seawall,” said Collins. “We regularly receive compliments from subordinate commanding officers about how he makes their jobs easier with timely, high-quality support.”
Montes – who hails from Orlando, Fla. – serves as Leading Petty Officer at RLSO Northwest Detachment Hawaii, where she leads a team of five Legalmen and five Fleet Sailors in support of 12 attorneys. She also serves as her command’s career counselor and manager of the JAG Corps’ Legalman Mentorship Program.
“This nomination represented a highlight of my naval career. It was humbling to be selected as a finalist, knowing the other Legalmen who were nominated and their many contributions to our community,” said Montes. “It is an honor to represent myself, my command, my Legalman family, and every person in my career who has taken time to mentor and guide me.”
Montes’ commanding officer, Capt. Art Record, who leads RLSO Northwest, called her a “star.”
“Everything she touches turns golden!” Record said. “Brilliant on the basics, great at leading and taking care of her Sailors, and an exemplary teammate, she is the total package. I cannot imagine a more worthy candidate for this prestigious award.”
The six finalists arrived in D.C. on March 14, and, throughout the week, they met with Navy leaders; toured significant D.C. and military sites; and took part in interviews with a selection board that included five Legalman community leaders. The theme of the week’s activities was, “Forging Resiliency with a Warrior Toughness Mindset.” Each day in D.C., the finalists focused on each of the Warrior Toughness elements – commitment, preparation, execution, and reflection.
This year’s celebration was particularly special, because, in 2022, the Legalman rating celebrates its 50th
anniversary. Navy Legalmen have made countless contributions during the past half century to Sailor, their families, the Navy, and the nation.
For more information about content from this year’s Legalman of the Year and Service Member of the Year awards, visit the Navy JAG Corps’ Facebook page (www.facebook.com/navyjag
). For more information about the JAG Corps, visit www.jag.navy.mil