NEW ORLEANS --
Capt. Ismael Lopez, the civil military operations planner for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Southern Command 17, was awarded the 2016 Colonel Justice Marion “Jumping Joe” Chambers Award at the Marine Corps Association and Foundation Ground Awards Dinner in Arlington, Virginia, May 4, 2017.
The award recognizes one Marine Corps Reserve company grade officer annually, who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities exemplified by Col. Justice M. Chambers, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient.
Lopez received the award for his key leadership role during the transition of Detachment 4, 4th Tank Battalion to 4th Civil Affairs Group.
In 2013, during a Force Realignment within the Reserves, Detachment 4, located in Miami, Florida, was believed to be better suited as a Civils Affairs unit.
Lopez led and encouraged more than 200 enlisted Marines, to complete the lateral move into the civil affairs primary military occupational specialty.
“It’s my duty to lead and encourage Marines” said Lopez. “I took it upon myself to educate my Marines what civil affairs does, why it’s important, why it’s a force multiplier and why I think my Marines would be a good fit for it.”
With Lopez’s encouragement, the unit consistently reported above 96 percent in drill participation, and was able to achieve full operational capability of 4th CAG within 15 months. 4th CAG is also the leading CAGs in personal readiness.
In a letter of commendation Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, applauded Lopez’s ability to overcome and adapt to different scenarios. He also stated that Lopez is an excellent example of the high standards and hard work that is synonymous with the award’s namesake.
When asked how he felt about receiving the award Lopez said he felt humbled and surprised that he was selected.
“The Marines that I serve with, brought the absolute best out of me,” said Lopez. “Without the Marines entrusted into my care, I wouldn’t be the Marine I am today. They push me to be a better individual and a better Marine officer.”