Irene M. Zoppi
Brigadier General Irene M. Zoppi
|Birth name||Irene Miller-Rodríguez|
|Born||August 22, 1966|
Can��vanas, Puerto Rico
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/|| United States Army|
United States Army Reserve
|Years of service||1985-1995 (Active)|
|Unit||3rd Armored Division-Spearhead|
|Commands held||DCG/Director, AREC - U.S. Army South, Ft Sam, San Antonio, TX and Former Deputy Commanding General – Support under the 200th Military Police Command at Fort Meade, Maryland.|
|Battles/wars||Operation Desert Storm|
|Awards||Bronze Star Medal|
Meritorious Service Medal (with 3 oak leaf clusters)
Army Commendation Medal (with 6 oak leaf clusters)
|Other work||Program Director for the National Intelligence University under the National Security Agency.|
Brigadier General Irene M. Zoppi (born August 22, 1966), a.k.a. Irene M. Zoppi-Rodríguez and "Ramba", is a United States Army Reserve officer serving as the Director, Army Reserve Engagement Cell & Deputy Commanding General - Reserve for U.S. Army South at Fort Sam, San Antonio, Texas; and former Deputy Commanding General – Support under the 200th Military Police Command at Fort Meade, Maryland. She is the first Puerto Rican female to reach the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Armed Forces. Zoppi has a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Maryland and is the recipient of the Maryland's Top 100 Women Award. As a civilian, she works as a Program Director for the National Intelligence University under the National Security Agency.
Zoppi [note 1](birth name: Irene Miller Rodriguez[note 2]) was born and raised in the town of Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. She was one of five children born to David Miller Lincoln (July 10, 1940 - June 17, 2014) and Lilia Rodríguez Vallecillo.
Her parents were members of the United States military stationed at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba, Puerto Rico. As a child, Zoppi used to wander around the naval station admiring the uniforms and the discipline around her. It was while she was visiting the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station that she met her future husband, Thomas Zoppi, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps stationed there. According to Zoppi, one night the two were talking about their plans for the future, and he said he would like to go into law enforcement and she told him she wanted to attend the University of Puerto Rico, join the ROTC program there, and become a general.
After she graduated from high school, Zoppi attended the University of Puerto Rico, joined the University's ROTC program and began her training in 1985 at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao campus. She continued her training in the Río Piedras Campus upon her transfer there. Zoppi began as private first class and was assigned to the Military Police Corps at Fort McClellan in Alabama. Zoppi, or Cadet Miller as she was known, excelled in the physical fitness activities and obstacle courses presented to her during her training and the ROTC instructor, a U.S. Army Ranger, nicknamed her "Ramba", an allusion to the movie character Rambo. The nickname stuck with her since that event in 1987.
Despite the fact that in the beginning of her military career she had poor English language skills, she continued to excel in her goals. She didn't speak English fluently, however she was able to read it and therefore helped other students make the proper corrections in their assignment papers. Eventually, Zoppi mastered the English language and graduated in 1988, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern Languages from the University of Puerto Rico. She now masters five languages, Spanish, English, Italian, French and German. That year she was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army after her graduation from the University.
Zoppi was first sent overseas to Germany before being deployed to the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War in what is known in the United States as Operation Desert Storm. She served with the 3rd Armored Division-Spearhead as a special security officer and worked with the telecommunication centers. Among her duties as a special security officer was obtaining classified information from the internet, interpreting the information, labeling it, and making it available to her superiors. She was stationed in the area known as "The Valley of Death" where the oil fields were burning. This was one of the areas where the Iraqis were trying to flee Kuwait. She described the experience as one of the culture shocks which she was subjected to. Prior culture shocks in her life included the culture of United States and that of Europe (specifically, Germany). Zoppi was present during the liberation of Kuwait and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for her actions in the conflict. She also served in Iraq and Saudi Arabia during her deployment.
The following are the positions which she held during her active military service:
- Deputy Commander & Chief of Staff, 1st Mission Support Command; Group/Brigade Commander
- Strategic Intelligence Group; Battalion Commander, 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion (Technical Intelligence); Assistant J2.
- Chief Intelligence Officer, Joint Task Force, National Command Region, NORTHCOM
- Battalion Commander, 11th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 104th Division (Leadership Development)
Zoppi retired from active military duty in 1995, with the rank of Captain. However, she continued to serve in the military through the Army Reserves and reached the rank of Colonel. She was the chief of staff. Zoppi served as the United States Southern Command SOUTHCOM Army Reserve Elements Commander/J2 with the 76th Operational Response Command based in Miami, Florida. Being in the reserves has permitted her to continue her military career while at the same time living a full civilian life.
She also continued her education and, in 1998, graduated from the Combined Arms Staff Service Course. She earned a master's degree in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University in 2000. In 2004, she graduated from the Command & General Staff Officer Course. That same year she earned her Ph.D. in Education Policy, Planning, and Administration from the University of Maryland. In 2009, Zoppi also earned a Leadership Certificate from the Harvard Business School, and in 2012, a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the Army War College.
In September 2017, Zoppi was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. Her promotion came with a new appointment as deputy commanding general for the 200th Military Police Command at Fort Meade, Maryland, the largest military police organization in the Department of Defense. She was assigned to work under Major General Marion Garcia, who has been leading the 200th Military Police Command for more than a year.
As a civilian Zoppi, known as Dr. Zoppi, is a program director for the National Intelligence University. The "NIU" is run by the National Security Agency. She is also a member of the Maryland State Board of Education, where she specializes in helping military families and minority students.
Zoppi teaches in the public school system of Maryland and also at various universities. She is a former Adjunct Professor, College of Notre Dame, and former Research Associate at the Maryland Institute of Minority Achievement and Urban Education, University of Maryland. Currently, she is a Professor in the Business and Education Departments at Strayer University. In 2012, was awarded the Strayer University Faculty of the Year Award.
- 2013 - Military Intelligence Excellence Knowlton Award.
- 2016 - Latina of Influence Award by the Hispanic Lifestyle Magazine (2016)
- Faculty of Excellence Award, Strayer University, 120th Commencement, Baltimore, Maryland.
- Maryland's Top 100 Women.
- Kentucky Colonel, Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.[a]
Zoppi married Thomas Zoppi, a former member of the United States Marine Corps in 1988, Her husband currently serves as a police officer in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. They have three children: Andrew, who is member of the United States Air Force, Isabel, and Antonio (Toño). They also have two grandchildren.
Military awards and decorations
Among Zoppi's military awards and decorations are the following:
|Bronze Star Medal|
|Meritorious Service Medal (with 3 Oak leaf clusters)|
|Army Commendation Medal (with 6 Oak leaf clusters)|
|Army Achievement Medal (with 1 Oak leaf clusters)|
|Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (with 6 Oak leaf clusters)|
|National Defense Service Medal (with one Service star)|
|Southwest Asia Service Medal (with three Service stars)|
|Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal|
|Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with Silver Hourglass)|
|Army Service Ribbon|
|Army Overseas Service Ribbon|
|Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon (with award numeral 2)|
|Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)|
|Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)|
|Meritorious Unit Commendation|
- Military history of Puerto Rico
- List of Puerto Rican military personnel
- Puerto Rican women in the military
- History of women in Puerto Rico
- Zoppi is her surname by marriage
- Zoppi's birth name follows Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is "Miller" and the second or maternal family name is "Rodríguez".
- The Kentucky Colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the governor and the secretary of state to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation.
- "Ramba" is first female Puerto Rican general officer in US Army Reserve
- Brigadier General Irene Zoppi
- Irene M. Zoppi-Rodríguez
- Dr. Irene M. Zoppi Rodriguez Professor at Strayer University
- Irene Zoppi, Gulf War Veteran
- LATINA OF INFLUENCE | IRENE ZOPPI-RODRIGUEZ, PH.D.
- THE RELATIONSHIP OF SELF-PERCEIVED LEADERSHIP STYLE AND ACCULTURATION OF LATINAS IN THE U.S. ARMY.
- Kentucky Colonels Commonwealth of Kentucky. Retrieved September 28, 2013.