Leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps Judge Advocate General (JAG) communities honored the achievements and service of the top enlisted Sailors and Marines during a recognition ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard on Jan. 24.
Navy Legalman 1st Class (Surface Warfare/Aviation Warfare/Information Warfare) Keiana K. Zinnah – who is assigned to the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) as the Legal Officer and Executive Department Leading Petty Officer – has been named the JAG 2019 Legalman of the Year.
Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Jose L. Roman – who is assigned to Naval Justice School as an instructor, course coordinator, Curriculum Development Chief, and Marines Awaiting Training Platoon Sergeant – has been selected as the Commander, Naval Legal Service Command (CNLSC) 2019 Marine of the Year.
Roman is the first enlisted Marine to be nominated and named CNLSC Marine of the Year.
The Navy’s JAG, Vice Adm. John Hannink, was joined at the event by Rear Adm. Del Crandall, CNLSC and Deputy JAG; Maj. Gen. Daniel Lecce, Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps; and Master Chief Legalman Brook Larkins, who serves as the senior enlisted advisor to the Navy JAG.
“Every one of [the finalists] came in here today a winner – and every single one will leave here a winner – because, at the end of the day, we are all on the same team,” said Hannink. “Going forward in the future, given today’s complex and challenging national security environment – more so than in the past few decades – the Navy and Marine Corps must be absolutely integrated and tied together.”
The six finalists for these prestigious awards were selected from a wide pool of applicants. Twenty-seven enlisted personnel were nominated for the JAG 2019 Legalman of the Year award. Fourteen enlisted personnel were nominated for the CNLSC 2019 Sailor/Marine of the Year award.
The ceremony capped a week of rigorous interviews, as well as visits to the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, and the White House. It was attended by the finalists’ family members, friends and colleagues.
Zinnah – who hails from Pineville, S.C. – has provided extensive legal support aboard the Kearsarge, such as processing nearly 250 military justice proceedings and 57 administrative separations, and coordinating pre-deployment workshops that resulted in 200 wills, 1,200 deployment letters and 453 powers of attorney.
“To be recognized in a pool of 27 extraordinary Legalman of the Year nominations, means the sacrifices of my family, the trust and guidance of my Sailors, peers and leadership were not in vain,” said Zinnah.
Her commanding officer, Capt. Jason Rimmer, calls Zinnah a model Legalman.
“LN1 Zinnah is a mature and gifted leader,” said Rimmer. “Bottom line: She is innovative and caring, and is a recognized leader on our deck plates. Her list of accomplishments, along with her deep dedication to mission accomplishment and Sailors, makes her the ideal candidate for selection.”
Roman – who hails from Houston, Tex. – is an invaluable member of the Naval Justice School staff. He has provided 65 hours of training to 100 personnel, scheduled 400 hours of instruction and created an interactive course calendar. He also contributed to the development of the new curriculum focused on the enactment of the Military Justice Act of 2016.
“Serving has equipped me with a set of intangible skills and traits that have made me a better citizen who cares for my organization, my subordinates and my community,” said Roman.
Naval Justice School provides accession-level and long-term legal training for all Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard lawyers and enlisted legal professionals – both active and Reserve. Capt. Shane Cooper, the school’s commanding officer, offered his strongest possible personal and professional endorsement of Roman.
“He is an outstanding role model for staff and students,” said Cooper. “His performance and professionalism are unmatched. He is proactive, efficient, and innovative.”
The other award finalists were Legalman 1st Class (Surface Warfare/Aviation Warfare/Information Warfare) Keia L. Greenwood, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76); Legalman 1st Class (Surface Warfare/Aviation Warfare) Katie G. Holden, USS George Washington (CVN 73); Legalman 1st Class (Surface Warfare/Aviation Warfare) Diandra D. Johnson, Defense Service Office West; and Legalman 1st Class (Seabee Combat Warfare) Charis S. Squire, Region Legal Service Office Mid-Atlantic.