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First Sergeant John M. O’Connor, Specialist 4 Jonah Friese, Lieutenant Pasquale Cassese, Sergeant First Class Patrick Sharp, Airman First Class Garrett Tully, Bringing honor to the 2022 Missile Defenders of the Year, from Alexandria VA, January 20, 2023.

Last Friday, January 20, 2023, with the intent, alignment, and history, of honoring those in the U.S armed forces, we held our 13th Missile Defender of the Year event here in Alexandria, Virginia, to commemorate the first operational missile defense intercept of a hostile missile. Thirty-two years ago, in Saudi Arabia, the United States fired its first Patriot missile to defend against an incoming Scud missile on January 18, 1991. This past year alone, the persistent missile threats in combat, demonstration, and testing from China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran have called for leadership from the U.S. and allies to mitigate such threats with more capacity and capability. Those who stood the watch and excelled in Leadership during this past volatile year are our five joint awardees of this event who are stationed worldwide, are selected by their respective Military Service, and chosen for their performances of excellence in Missile Defense over the past year. We honored them at the residence of the first American President and Commander and Chief as they presented a wreath on the tomb of President George Washington at Mount Vernon. Later that evening each of our 2022 Award recipients were introduced by their Service Representative and acknowledged by the Missile Defense Community.

MDAA brought forward our nation’s very best missile defender from each of the five military services from around the world to be honored and recognized for excellence in leadership in 2022. The awarded leadership of excellence from our Army, Navy, Air Force, Army National Guard, and Space Force, represented the apex of U.S. missile defense around the world today. 

Winners associate with Winners to Win. The resilience, persistence, and passion to overcome the adverse conditions of the world this past year to make our nation and the world safer is remarkable, genuine, and of honor. These five exceptional American Missile Defenders represent the current missile defense systems deployed and reflect the challenges and priorities of the missile threat to the United States and its allies worldwide. 

We are honored to introduce the 2022 Missile Defenders of the Year: Sergeant First Class Patrick Sharp of the U.S. National Guard, Lieutenant Pasquale Cassese of the U.S. Navy, Airman First Class Garrett Tully of the U.S. Air Force, Specialist 4 Jonah Friese of the U.S. Space Force, and First Sergeant John O’Connor of the U.S. Army.

Sergeant First Class Patrick Sharp

1st Battalion, 211th Regiment

Florida Army National Guard

U.S. National Guard


Lieutenant Pasquale Cassese

USS The Sullivans

DDG 68

U.S. Navy


Airman First Class Garrett Tully

603rd Air Operation Center

Ramstein Air Base, Germany

U.S. Air Force


Specialist 4 Jonah Friese

2nd Space Warning Squadron (2SWS)

Buckley SFB, Colorado

U.S. Space Force


First Sergeant John M. O’Connor

10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command

Ansbach, Germany

U.S. Army


“We were taught that world champions need to be treated like world champions to be world champions, and we wanted as much as we can to treat you like world champions because you are world champions.”

–      Riki Ellison, Missile Defender of the Year Event, January 20th, 2023

Click here to view the event.

Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.