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2023 MDAA Missile Defender of the Year awardees with VIPs at the award ceremony in Alexandria, VA. January 19, 2024

Winners associate with winners and we associate with winners to win on Missile Defense. Last Friday evening we held our 14th Missile Defender of the Year event in Alexandria, VA. This event uniquely and with intent and with purpose is held in honor and recognition of the 33rd anniversary of the first intercepts of Iraqi ballistic missiles by the Patriot Missile Defense System operated by our nation’s soldiers defending US and allied forces during the 1991 Gulf War. 

This event is about our best people, our champions and forces that have the noblest of missions to defend lives in our homeland and American lives in forward operating bases, forts, and at sea across the planet with our allies. This has been a remarkable year for the amount of missiles that have been shot in the past year – with Hamas launching over 9,500 missiles, rockets, and drones at Israel; Russia firing over 7,400 missiles at Ukraine; and Houthis launching over 50 missiles at Israeli and shipping targets – the amount of missiles being used with the intent to kill have been immense. This past year is an even more remarkable year for all those champions, winners and Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Guardians that led with excellence in operating the Missile Defense Systems that defended lives and infrastructure helping to make the world and nation safer. We Honor them and Recognize their Service for the betterment of our Nation.

We have 5 outstanding award recipients. These five honorees, MAJ Robert Sheehan, LCDR Rebekah Fleming, SSgt John Brannon, Sgt Matthew Critchley, and CPT Zac Buenger represent the best in leadership, trust, and honor for their actions in operating the most capable and resilient missile defense systems in the world today. We were all honored to have the new Commander of the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Lieutenant General Sean Gainey who presented the Army and National Guard 2024 Missile Defender of the Year recipients. We had the honor for Col. King to present both the SAGE award to Major Robert Sheehan and SHIPTON award to Captain Zac Buenger. It is to be noted that our Navy 2024 MDAA Missile Defender of the Year recipient, LCDR Rebekah Fleming, was on duty as the Combat Systems Officer the USS Carney BMD Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer on patrol in the Red Sea actively leading the missile defense of her ship and crew and Allied partner nations in defending against Houthi missile attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea.  

2023 U.S. Missile Defender of the Year Awardees

Major Robert Sheehan, US National Guard Awardee; SAGE award winner

Lieutenant Commander Rebekah Fleming, U.S. Navy Awardee

Staff Sergeant John Brannon U.S. Air Force Awardee

Sergeant Matthew Critchley, U.S. Space Force Awardee

Captain Zac Buenger, U.S. Army Awardee; SHIPTON Award Winner

A special thanks to the following for joining us and winning as a team:

LTG Sean Gainey, Commanding General, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense 

Maj Gen David Meyer, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force 

RADM Fred Pyle, Director, Surface Warfare Division, N96, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Brig Gen Jim Smith, Assistant Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear, Headquarters United States Space Force 

COL Curtis King, 45th Commandant of the U.S. Army ADA School

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.