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2023 Outstanding Young Military Awards Recipients

2023 Outstanding Young Military Awards Recipients

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Lieutenant Commander Karen M. Lee – United States Coast Guard

LCDR Lee entered active duty in 2005 and became a Judge Advocate in June 2018. She has served in multiple positions including as the Legal Advisor, Senior Staff Attorney, and as a Deputy Staff Judge Advocate. LCDR Lee distinguished herself as a key leader in the Coast Guard providing immediate impact in her first legal tour, leading units through legally complex situations brought on by the 35-day U.S. Government shutdown and the COVID-19 pandemic. Having set the groundwork as a trusted legal advisor, she provided critical advice and support to leaders on over 500 military justice cases ensuring timely results, just outcomes, and minimal impact to operations. Finally, she leveraged her vast prevention expertise providing exemplary legal support through several significant events including laying the groundwork for national-wide change for fire safety on board small passenger vessels, helping chart the course for the introduction of large-scale offshore wind energy into the U.S., and providing foundational legal support during the Coast Guard’s support to the joint operation regarding the Chinese High-Altitude Balloon. The distinguished accomplishments of LCDR Lee reflect great credit upon herself, the United States Coast Guard, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Lieutenant Alexandra Mooney – United States Navy

Lieutenant Alexandra Mooney has continuously distinguished herself as a professional and selfless military officer both on shore and at sea. Always leading by example, she exemplifies the Navy Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. She has excelled across the spectrum of judge advocate positions to include serving as a legal assistance attorney and department head, command services attorney, trial counsel at Region Legal Service Office Mid-Atlantic Detachment Groton and Deputy Command Judge Advocate on board USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH (CVN 77). As the Deputy Command Judge Advocate and division officer for a seven-person legal office on the NIMITZ class aircraft carrier USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH, she is responsible for enabling good order and discipline for the 3,000 Sailors on board. In addition to her legal work, she is a fully qualified Officer-of-the-Deck Underway. She superbly drove the Ship through over 1,000 hours of flight operations, 15 replenishments at sea, and through the Strait of Gibraltar during CVN 77’s 9-month deployment. A phenomenal junior officer, LT Mooney leads up and down the chain of command by inspiring all those around her to be better.

Major Christopher Simmons – United States Air Force

Maj. Christopher Simmons entered active duty as an Air Force Judge Advocate in January 2014. He has served in multiple positions to include as the Chief of Contracts and Fiscal Law, Chief of Civil Law, Chief of Military Justice, Executive Officer to the Staff Judge Advocate, twice as a Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, and twice as a Staff Judge Advocate. Maj Simmons distinguished himself as a key leader in the Air Force during his service as Staff Judge Advocate to the 352d Special Operations Commander and Senior Defense Official/Defense Attache and Chief, Office of Military Cooperation - Kuwait and as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate for both the 8th Fighter Wing and 27th Special Operation Wing. The distinguished accomplishments of Maj Simmons reflect great credit upon himself, the Untied States Air Force, and the Department of Defense.

Captain Gabrielle Lucero – United States Army

Captain Gabrielle Lucero entered active duty as an Army Judge Advocate in May 2017. She has served in multiple positions including Legal Assistance Attorney, Chief of Claims, Special Victims Trial Counsel, General Crimes Prosecutor, Special Victims Prosecutor, and Special Trial Counsel for III Corps and Fort Hood. CPT Lucero's professionalism, expertise, performance, dedication to duty, and selfless service significantly contributed to the success of the unit's mission and exceptional care to victims. Her distinctive accomplishments are in keeping with the highest honors and traditions of military service and the practice of law and reflects great credit upon herself, the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps, the United States Army, and the Department of Defense.

Major Daane J. Blocksma – United States Marine Corps

Major Daane J. Blocksma, commissioned in the United States Marine Corps 2011, and began serving as a Judge Advocate in 2015. He has served in a number of diverse positions, including Chief of Operations Law, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate; Deputy Legal Advisor, Defense Counsel, and as a Legal Assistance Attorney. Major Blocksma has distinguished himself as selfless leader, volunteering as an Adjunct Professor at the United States Naval Academy, while simultaneously serving in one of the most complex operational billets as the Chief of Operations Law, Joint Task Force-ARES. An expert on operational authorities, Major Blockma’s legal advice is sought-after by personnel from across Marine Corps and the Joint Force. He was recognized as "Defense Counsel of the Year" for the Eastern Region in 2017 and has provided exceptional operational advice to the warfighter in combat environments. The honor graduate at every formal school he has attended, Major Blocksma is the consummate military and legal professional, and is a dedicated member of the community beyond just the courtroom or the battlefield. The distinguished accomplishments of Major Daane J. Blocksma reflect great credit upon himself, the United States Marine Corps, and the Department of Defense.