Two Navy judge advocates – Lt. Cmdr. Margaret “Maggie” Cole and Lt. Melissa “Mely” Rodriguez – were presented with 2019 LATINA Style Meritorious Service Awards on Sept. 5 at the 16th Annual National Latina Symposium in Arlington, Va.
The award recognizes military and Department of Defense civilian personnel who have enhanced the role of Latinas in their organizations in the areas of equal opportunity, civil rights programs, and public service to local communities.
“We are all very proud of Maggie and Mely, both members of the Navy Judge Advocate Hispanic Association, for their recent recognition,” said Capt. Robert Passerello, commanding officer of Region Legal Services Naval District Washington, who attended the event.
“Maggie also participated in a panel discussion at the symposium and received endless accolades for her remarks. It was clear that her comments made an impact on the audience, as I must have witnessed 40 people walk up to her later in the day during the reception, to thank her for her remarks and congratulate her,” he added.
Most recently, Cole distinguished herself through exemplary service as deputy staff judge advocate, Commander, Navy Installations Command from August 2018 to July 2019. Her counsel -- and her management of a $4 million court-martial budget -- was instrumental to the success of the commander and staff as they navigated complex ethics and military justice issues, and complicated, high-visibility good order and discipline matters. Also, while stationed in the National Capital Region, Cole co-founded the first Navy JAG Corps Hispanic Association and currently serves as its first vice president. Further, she mentored and empowered junior officers to maximize their personal and professional potential by helping establish and participating in a local “Lean In” group.
From June to September 2018, Rodriguez deployed to Central and South America as the first staff judge advocate to support the Southern Seas mission, a U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet initiative. After returning from that deployment, Rodriguez was assigned for independent duty command judge advocate billet on Diego Garcia. She currently is the sole judge advocate responsible for advising the commanding officer and offering legal support to over 1,000 active-duty personnel stationed there. She also has served as a Navy JAG Corps Diversity Liaison to the National Latina/o Law Student Association and, alongside Cole, is a founding member of the Navy Judge Advocate Hispanic Association.
“We are very proud that Maggie and Mely’s dedicated service has been recognized in this way,” said Rear Adm. Darse “Del” Crandall, deputy Judge Advocate General.