Dr. Irene M. Zoppi, First Latina Brigadier
General Officer, U.S. Army Reserve (Ret)
By Gloria Romano-Barrera
Soldiers assigned to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) provide ceremonial support during a General Officer Retirement Ceremony
in honor of Brig. Gen. Irene M. Zoppi, in Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, November 19, 2021. The ceremony, hosted by
Maj. Gen. Allan M. Pepin, commanding general, Joint Force Headquarters - National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of
Washington, honored Zoppi’s 35 years of service to the nation. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes).
“There is no better profession than serving in the Armed Forces. A
military career is more than an opportunity to serve our Country. It
is a pathway to showcase the authentic leadership talent, diversity,
and an orgullo of our Hispanic/Latino/Latinx Heritage,” shares Brigadier General
(R) Irene M. Zoppi (Rodríguez), aka Ramba, United States Army Reserve. “It is a
call to duty aimed at all courageous leaders in the patriotic pursuit of the values
of democracy and freedom. In your lifetime, you become part of history, both in
peacekeeping and wartime, serving our Nation throughout the world.”
BG Zoppi, who would become the first Latina Brigadier General Officer in the
United States Army Reserve, almost did not join the Army. She had initially sought
opportunities in the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). When
diversity and inclusion were unheard of, she trailblazed toward a new culture,
language, and lifestyle, joining the vocation of arms while working two jobs;
taking care of her minor siblings; and studying for her Bachelor’s degree in
Coastal Marine Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus. Also,
she enrolled in the Army ROTC Program with her brother David Victor. The ROTC
Program drove potential and talent into excellence. She became passionate about
military history, operations, and physical training from her mentors, LTC (R)
Angelo Sanchez, COL (R) Arnaldo Claudio, and Mr. Luis G. Pimentel. It was there
where she found support and made the most significant decision of her life.
“I enjoyed it so much that I said I am going to go in the Army,” she shares.
“The Professors of Military Science (PMS) were talking to you in a way that would
Brig. Gen. Irene M. Zoppi at Retirement Ceremony in Conmy Hall,
challenge you to believe in yourself. “BE ALL YOU CAN BE was my mantra along
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, November 19, 2021.
with the words that empowered me – There were no limits – Si se puede,
(U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes).
pa’lante, no quitting, or simply no quittation.”
22 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle V ol. 27, No. 6 , 2021