US Awards Legion of Merit to Brazilian Admiral

U.S. Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, the commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), presented the U.S. Department of Defense’s Legion of Merit medal to Brazilian Naval Attache Vice Adm. Celso Luiz Nazareth May 21.

Kelly presented the medal on behalf of the President of the United States during a reception attended by U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Liliana Ayalde, and other top U.S. and Brazilian leaders.

The Brazilian admiral was awarded for “extraordinary personal contributions” from July 2011 – July 2013 that “greatly enhanced understanding, improved cooperation, and strengthened relations between the United States Navy and Brazilian Navy,” according to the award citation.

The Legion of Merit was established by an act of Congress in 1942 and is one of the highest military decorations awarded by the United States to U.S. or foreign military personnel who distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services.

The citation accompanying the medal praises Nazareth’s role as the primary coordinator for meetings with the Chief of Naval Operations – the U.S. Navy’s top admiral – and the Commander of the Brazilian Navy.

“The impact of these visits helped establish multilateral advancement of several significant maritime initiatives,” states the citation.

The award citation also credits Nazareth for “critical coordination” during two successful combined naval exercises between the two navies, stating that he served as a link in “overcoming logistical and communications challenges.”

From October 2012 – June 2013, Nazareth efforts led to him being named the Dean of Naval Attachés where he was the lead representative for all foreign Naval Attachés serving in the Washington D.C. area.

“His astute politico-military judgment and adroit diplomatic skills ensured critical Navy interests were considered by both military and civilian policymakers,” the citation noted.