2014 European Missile Defender of the Year Ceremony

Kaiserslautern, Germany / April 4, 2014

The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) held its inaugural European Missile Defender of the Year Award Ceremony in Kaiserslautern, Germany on Friday, April 4, 2014.

“This event strengthens the resolve of the mission and highlights the cooperation of the joint international military team that deploys and operates missile defense systems for the defense of NATO and Europe today,” stated Mr. Riki Ellison Founder and Chairman of MDAA. “This occasion comes at the right time for the right reasons and this significant and important mission of missile defense continues to grow in Europe with our NATO members.”

The award is given to North Atlantic Treaty Organization service members that have made significant contributions to missile defense over the past year. The six selected individuals come from four NATO countries and represent the best in leadership and personal effort, demonstrating their commitment to excellence and their critical role in missile defense in the protection of Europe. The event coincided with the 65 th anniversary of the founding of NATO on April 4, 1949.

Mr. Ellison described the awardees as the “best of the best,” and they represent the “strength of diversity” of the multi-nation NATO team that “believes equally in its mission to defend Europe against ballistic missile threats.”

The 2014 European Missile Defenders of the Year

Lieutenant Colonel Edwin de Boer (Netherlands)

 Lt Col de Boer is the Current Chief of Operations of the NATO Ballistic Missile Defense Operations Center Headquarters in Ramstein, Germany.

Lieutenant Colonel Gurkan Costur (Turkey)

Lt Col Costur is the first voluntary national contributor from Turkey to support ballistic missile defense at NATO’s Allied Air Command HQ.

Mr.Kenneth Dustin (USA Air Force Europe)

Mr. Dustin is the Senior Ballistic Missile Defense Program Analyst at the United States Air Force Europe and Africa’s 603rd Air and Space Operations Center located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Lieutenant Michael Laich (USA Navy Europe)

Lt. Laich was a crew member of a highly successful tour as a Systems Test Officer onboard the USS Barry (DDG 52) on a nine month Ballistic Missile Deployment to the COMSIXTHFLEET Area of Operations.

Staff Sargent Enrique Martinez (USA Army Europe)

SSG Martinez is the Platoon Sergeant for Charlie Battery 5/7 Patriot Air Defense Battalion based in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Senior MasterSargent Thomas Tapken (Germany)SMSG Tapken is assigned to Air Missile Defense Group 26, Air Missile Defense Wing 1 of the German Air Force at Husum, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. During the last year he has been a vital member of the 2nd German contingent of the Active Fence Turkey Mission to September 2013.

Defenders of the Year

International Cooperation