U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Marisol Chalas, who is currently serving as the legislative assistant to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, was recognized as an outstanding woman in the country and abroad in her hometown of Bani, Dominican Republic. Chalas, who resides in Washington D.C., was awarded the Medal of Merit by the country's president, Luis Abinader. The March 8 ceremony was headed by Abinader and attended by vice president Raquel Peña and the first lady, Raquel Arbaje.
On March 9, Chalas was declared a Distinguished Citizen by the country's Senate. The decision to grant her this award was unanimously approved by all 32 senators.
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Joseph M. Martin commented that it is fitting that Chalas, one of the first Hispanic female aviation pilots in the Army, is receiving this award during Women's History Month.
"I'm proud to say that for the last two years, Lt. Col. Marisol Chalas has served as my legislative assistant and has done an amazing job," said Martin. "Her years of experience and wealth of knowledge has not only benefitted me but all those who are fortunate to work with her."
Chalas, who received recognition as the first Hispanic female Blackhawk pilot while serving in the Army National Guard, acquired citizenship after enlisting in the Army in 1990, eventually commissioning into the aviation branch after graduating from Officer Candidate School in 2001.
During her remarks in the Dominican Republic, Chalas encouraged those hearing her story to make a difference, as she did through her service. She said that while she upholds and honors, values and defends what her country - the United States - and the U.S. Army stands for, she will always have a special place in her heart for her hometown of Baní. "The United States is made up of immigrants who come from all over the world and I hope that whoever is Dominican or from another Hispanic country recognizes that we can change the future."
The City Hall of the town of Bani also held a special ceremony on Saturday, March 6, to honor Chalas for her professional achievements.