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2021 Outstanding Young Military Awards Recipients

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Major Matthew G. Zellner, United States Air Force

Major Matthew G. Zellner has distinguished himself as a judge advocate with service in eight commands across the globe.  During these assignments he has held positions including roles as chief of space, operations, international, fiscal, and civil law, military justice, and detainee communications, and was selected as top defense counsel in his region. 

He was named the inaugural United States Space Force Albert M. Kuhfeld Award recipient given to the top young judge advocate, additionally garnered multiple command team innovation awards, and earned Field Grade Officer of the Quarter honors. He has earned several #1 stratifications, Company Grade Officer of the Year, numerous Company Grade Officer of the Quarter honors, and two prestigious Defense Meritorious Service Medals.  Altogether, Major Zellner has earned more than 20 military decorations.  He was a Distinguished Graduate at both Commissioned Officer Training and Squadron Officer School, winning several awards in the process. 

A leader in the national security law enterprise, he has been an international event panelist, a Joint National Security Law Writing Workshop presenter, Runner-Up in the Air Force Writing Competition, and author of an international publication. He graduated with highest honors as a James Kent and Parker School scholar with his Columbia University International Law LL.M.  In addition to holding an active role in his church, he is most passionate about animals, children, and the elderly, volunteering whenever possible to those most in need. 

The distinctive accomplishments of Major Zellner reflect great credit upon himself, The Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and the United States Air Force.

Capt. Fabienne Suter, United States Army

Captain Suter is a highly personable, motivated, and dedicated Judge Advocate with enormous potential. She combines the right mix of Soldier-lawyer traits including resiliency and optimism to accomplish her missions.  Whether she is stationed in Asia, Europe, or the United States, Fabienne consistently takes on physically and mentally challenging tasks yet still ensures she gives back to her local community and legal community.

She consistently lives the “Army Values” of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. Her loyalty and integrity are beyond reproach and she always goes above and beyond by exercising personal initiative and diligence. Her selfless service, clear sense of responsibility, and devotion to doing what's right have been essential in her becoming a trusted legal advisor in the Army.

Captain Suter's keen intellect and versatility across all core legal disciplines make her an indispensable and highly effective officer and attorney. Fabienne is often sought out by peers and superiors to analyze and resolve the most complex legal and non-legal issues; her advice is often praised by commanders for its simplicity and accuracy. Her intellect is truly formidable, but it is her modesty and personable nature which give her the flexibility to go beyond herself to find optimal solutions to these problems. Fabienne has been called a "fire-and-forget watch-stander" because she is entrusted to accomplish legal tasks with four-star general level visibility. Because of her tenacity and brilliant performance, in December 2020 Captain Suter was selected for promotion to the rank of Major. 

LCDR Rory Haley, United States Coast Guard

Within a year of graduating law school, LCDR Haley was named lead Prevention lawyer for the 1st Coast Guard District. Tasked with advising over 60 operational clients, LCDR Haley’s efforts impacted issues ranging from developing an international oil spill response framework, to advising and creating a national regulatory scheme for dealing with unmanned vessels. Despite this enormous responsibility, she simultaneously carried a full case load as trial counsel for military prosecutions, quickly earning the command’s trust to handle complex sexual assault cases.

She now serves as Senior Special Victims’ Counsel (SVC) and Disability Counsel for the Mid-Atlantic Region, where she oversees 6 attorneys representing a caseload of 100+ clients ranging from New Jersey to Puerto Rico. LCDR Haley’s inspirational and positive leadership style has been instrumental in ensuring the success and resiliency of these junior attorneys performing work that can easily result in burnout. She has also proven herself as a key leader in the implementation of the USCG’s pilot program to provide legal services to victims of domestic violence.

LDCR Haley’s dedication to mentorship and service is also demonstrated by her activities outside the scope of her normal duties. She served as chair of the Greater Boston Women's Leadership Initiative and is currently spearheading the Spotlight on Leadership mentoring event, scheduled for May 2021. In her limited free time, she also mentors cadets at the Coast Guard Academy, providing guidance to future officers. LCDR Haley has distinguished herself as an outstanding military lawyer.

Capt. Angelissa Savino, U.S. Marine Corps

Captain Angelissa Savino serves as the epitome of an Outstanding Young Military Lawyer.  A top-performing Marine officer and judge advocate, she brings an unparalleled work ethic to every mission she performs and every unit she serves.  Since 2014, Captain Savino has held billets as a Trial Counsel, a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and the Marine Corps legal community’s company grade occupational field sponsor. 

Marine Corps commands and units in the National Capitol Region benefited immensely from her tenacity, expertise, and compassion as a prosecutor.  At Headquarters Marine Corps, as the company grade occupational field sponsor, she took great lengths to ensure that all Marine Corps judge advocates are poised for success by coordinating assignments and offering career advice, personal mentorship, and insightful guidance to every company grade officer who sought her assistance.  A

patient, considerate, and exceptional communicator, Captain Savino was well-suited for this important work.  Every time Captain Savino got involved with a case, an office, a career, or a program, she made it better.  As such, her brilliant work as a prosecutor and her tremendous management of strategic programs make her the hands-down favorite for this prestigious award.

LT Michelle Flash, United States Navy

LT Michelle Flash, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United States Navy, has consistently distinguished herself as an exceptional attorney and Naval Officer in the most demanding billets both ashore and deployed.  A skilled attorney and trusted advisor, she has been hand-selected numerous times to serve as the legal advisor, from serving as the advisor on a tri-lateral war game with the Naval War College, to serving as the legal advisor for a one-star Admiral during a nation-level two week exercise orchestrated by U.S. Fleet Forces.  

She is currently deployed to the CENTCOM AOR, handling a growing portfolio of operational and intelligence law in a dynamic and shifting area of operation.   During her time in the Northwest as a Special U.S. Assistant Attorney, she handled over 350 cases including a fully contested trial.  Outside of the courtroom, LT Flash proved herself as an operation-enabling JAG, deploying to JTF GTMO and serving as the liason officer between the ICRC and the JTF Commander. 

LT Flash goes out of her way to assist with POAs for deploying members when they have last minute requests, and organizing professional development opportunities for the legal and operational staff, to include a most recent cyber authorities discussion with senior SJA SMEs.  LT Flash’s motivational influence extends beyond her colleagues and enlisted staff.  Her professionalism, work ethic, and devotion to the mission reflect great credit upon herself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.