Missile Defender of the Year Award Ceremonies

January 14, 2011 marked the inaugural Defender of the Year Award Ceremony, recognizing and honoring members of the military who command fully operational and deployed missile defense systems. These events are held around the world and have recognized and honored missile defenders from 18 different countries.

U.S. Missile Defender of the Year Award Ceremonies

The Missile Defender of the Year is awarded to the best U.S. missile defense Solider, Sailor, Airmen, National Guardsmen, and Guardian for the year

20101LT Ted M. Kimmey Jr.1st Lt Brian K. YoakamFC1 Shawn Andre WalkerMAJ Michael A. Tobe
2011CPT Will Andrews FC2 Mathieu McIntoshSSG Craig Davis
2012CPT Kyle KirkpatrickCapt Gregory TengcoFC2 Ronald BarbeeSGT Aric Wilkins
2013SSG Nancy A. Wingo Capt Benjamin C. SzutarLT Brandon BridgesSSG Nicholas W. Power
2014SSG Michael Sean McSherryLt Col Jerry FrazierFC2 Bartholomew RingerSSG Norman D. Perkins III
2015CPT Jason RobertsMaj Michael D. SwardFC1 Elizabeth J. ClarkSSG Trampas J. Vojtasek
2016CW2 Kevin M. KruthersLt Col Anthony J. OwensPO1 Nathaniel LynchSSG Caroline Domenech
20171LT Benjamin SchiffLt Col Rocco AngiolelliCPO Zachary QuirkCPT Jason Brewer
2018CW3 Lucas WattersonCapt Rex VillaLTJG McKenzie AndersonCW4 Jacob Moore
2019CPT Cody WilliamsCapt Nolan HebeinFCA1 Mario AmaroCPT Eric Grant
2020SFC Johnny WashingtonCapt Marco CataneseFCA1 John LongSGM Jason Junkins1st Lt Eryn Daman
(Space Operations Command)
2021SFC Matthew CrainMaj Robert Heath MatthewsLT Kristen RingwallCW2 Jeremy HowardTSgt X. Victor Kearney
20221SG John O’ConnorA1C Garrett TullyLT Pasquale CasseseSFC Patrick SharpSpc4 Jonah Friese
2023CPT Zachary BuengerSSgt John BrannonLCDR Rebekah FlemingMAJ Robert SheehanSgt Matthew Critchley


Regional Defenders of the Year

NORAD & USNORTHCOM Missile Warning and Defender of the Year

The award ceremony honors the best excellence of leadership within NORAD and USNORTHCOM, both military and civilian, for missile warning and missile defense.

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
October 13, 2023Colorado Springs, Colorado14
May 13, 2022Colorado Springs, Colorado10
December 18, 2020Virtual15
June 7, 2019Colorado Springs, Colorado22
June 1, 2018Colorado Springs, Colorado16
June 2, 2017Colorado Springs, Colorado6
June 3, 2016Colorado Springs, Colorado6
May 29, 2015Colorado Springs, Colorado4
May 22, 2014Colorado Springs, Colorado3
May 3, 2013Colorado Springs, Colorado4

Peninsula Defenders of the Year

Bringing together the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) and the United States (U.S.) to honor and recognize each country’s best missile defense crews

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
November 21, 2019Seoul, Korea35
November 16, 2018Seoul, Korea35
November 29, 2017Seoul, Korea41
November 18, 2016Seoul, Korea22
November 20, 2015Seoul, Korea24
November 21, 2014Seoul, Korea14
November 2013Seoul, Korea13
November 2012Seoul, Korea10

Alaska Missile Defender of the Year

Honoring those members of the Alaska Army and Air National Guard who operate the U.S. Ground Based Midcourse System.

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
November 5, 2022Anchorage, Alaska23
September 26, 2020Virtual18
May 18, 2019Anchorage, Alaska15
May 19, 2018Anchorage, Alaska13
May 6, 2017Anchorage, Alaska11
May 21, 2016Anchorage, Alaska12
May 16, 2015Anchorage, Alaska10
May 10, 2014Anchorage, Alaska8

European Missile Defender of the Year

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.

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
February 10, 2023Breda, Netherlands8
October 27, 2018Berlin, Germany10
April 8, 2017Cologne, Germany8
April 29, 2016Ramstein, Germany10
April 17, 2015Kaiserslautern, Germany6
April 4, 2014Kaiserslautern, Germany6

Gulf Cooperation Council Air and Missile Defender of the Year

The event recognized the excellence of the air and missile defenders protecting the United Arab Emirates, and the outstanding team effort between the two nations. This effort spans the reach of  the UAE and U.S. military services on land, sea and air, right down to the leadership and the individual airmen, soldiers and sailors who defend the United Arab Emirates.

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
September 27, 2018Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates10
September 28, 2017Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates6
August 8, 2016Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates8
October 15, 2014Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates17

Okinawa Missile Defender of the Year

Honoring missile defense forces from Japan and the United States of America at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
November 18, 2019Okinawa, Japan44
November 30, 2018Okinawa, Japan32
December 1, 2017Okinawa, Japan31
November 22, 2016Okinawa, Japan34
November 24, 2015Okinawa, Japan24
November 25, 2014Kadena Air Base18
November 2013Kadena Air Base10

Indo- Pacific Air and Missile Defender of the Year

This award honors the best U.S. war fighters contributing to the integrated air and missile defense network throughout the Pacific theater.

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
August 3, 2023Honolulu, Hawaii10
August 5, 2022Honolulu, Hawaii12
April 15, 2021Honolulu, Hawaii – Virtual5
September 26, 2015Honolulu, Hawaii10

Japan Missile Defender of the Year

The award is given to members of the missile defense community in Japan, which consists of Japan’s Air Force and four participating U.S. military services.

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
February 9, 2017Tokyo, Japan9
November 18, 2015 Yokota Air Force Base, Japan10

Guam Missile Defender of the Year

This award recognizes the missile defenders located in the American territory of Guam, where the U.S. Army’s Task Force Talon of the 94th AAMDC deploys the THAAD battery site.

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
October 28, 2021Andersen AFB, Guam10
November 25, 2019THAAD Site Armadillo, Guam10
December 4, 2018THAAD Site Armadillo, Guam18
December 6, 2017THAAD Site Armadillo, Guam 8
 November 16, 2016THAAD Site Armadillo, Guam7
 November 27, 2015THAAD Site Armadillo, Guam 7

Texas Missile Defender of the Year

This award honors the best missile defenders of the year from the state of Texas, which is home to the world’s largest Air Defense Brigade, the 11th Imperial Brigade out of Fort Bliss, Texas and also the 69th Army Air Defense Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas.

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
 Saturday, March 25, 2017 Austin, Texas 11

Dutch Missile Defender of the Year

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
Tuesday, May 16, 2017Soest, Netherlands3

National Capital Region Air & Missile Defender of the Year

DateLocationNumber of Awardees
Wednesday, March 30, 2022Alexandria, Virginia19
Friday, October 18, 2019Alexandria, Virginia7

Back to Events Homepage