ATLANTA — Maj. Kay K. Wakatake of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps received one of the 2011 Best Lawyers Under 40 Awards presented at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Anniversary Gala and Celebration Dinner on Nov. 19 in Atlanta.
These awards recognize talented Asian Pacific American attorneys under the age of 40 who have achieved prominence in their respective areas of law while demonstrating an unwavering dedication to the APA community.
Wakatake’s last overseas deployment was to the Ramadi-Fallujah combat zone in Iraq, where she was the brigade judge advocate for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
She played a crucial role in establishing the rule of law in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq, where she met with numerous dignitaries, including provincial governors, district and provincial police chiefs, criminal investigators, Iraqi Army commanders, senior officers, and judges.
She was the primary planner and facilitator for the brigade’s rule of law operations, advising Iraqi military and judicial figures and the U.S. Stability Transition Team. Putting mission before personal safety, Wakatake frequently “went outside the wire” to meet personally with the Iraqi officials at their offices to reinforce and monitor the progress of the brigade’s operations, while offering advice and assistance to the Iraqi partners.
She played a critical role in handling criminal investigations. When a tragic double homicide occurred, Wakatake tirelessly advised the commanders and military criminal investigators, and served as a confidant to soldiers affected by the horrific fratricide.
Wakatake also supervised the prosecution of another double homicide, leading to a conviction and life sentence.
As chief of legal assistance at Fort Lewis in Washington state, Wakatake’s office received the highly coveted Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance.
As the officer-in-charge of the Mannheim Law Center in Mannheim, Germany, her office received the Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance and the Army Judge Advocate General’s Excellence in Claims Award.
As one of the top military lawyers, she is currently attending the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, and will be reassigned to the Pentagon when her course of study is completed in December.
In 2008, Wakatake co-founded the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), of which she serves as co-chairperson.
Since 2007, Wakatake has served on the Executive Committee of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA). She has also served as the editor of JAVA’s quarterly newsletter, The Advocate, since 2006 even while deployed stateside outside of the D.C. area, in Europe, and in Iraq.
JAVA President Gerald Yamada said, “This award is well deserved. We are fortunate to have a talented lawyer like Kay on our governing board and look forward to her return to the D.C. area in January 2012.”