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Anchorage – May 18, 2015 — The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA),, held its second annual Alaska Missile Defender of the Year Award Ceremony in Anchorage, Alaska on Saturday, May 16, honoring those members of the Alaska Army and Air National Guard who operate the U.S. Ground Based Midcourse System.

The top award presented was the Ted Stevens Memorial Award for missile defense, in honor of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, a champion for national missile defense.

The Winners of the Ted Stevens Memorial Award in 2015 are:

Captain Eric L. Vantrease

Chief Standardization and Evaluation Officer, 213th Space Warning Squadron

Alaska Air National Guard

 Master Sergeant Thomas E. Wright II

Assistant Operation Superintendent, 13th/23th Space Wing Squadron

Alaska Air National Guard


The Winners of the 2015 Missile Defender of the Year of the Alaska Air National Guard are:

First Lieutenant Micah Hanauer

Crew Commander, Missile Warning Operations Center, 213th SWS

Technical Sergeant Brian C. Rowbotham

Crew Chief, Missile Warning Operations Center, 213th SWS


The Winners of the 2015 Missile Defender of the Year Award for Best Crew are:

Alpha Crew, 49th Missile Defense Battalion, Alaska Army National Guard

Major Jeremy Shepherd

Senior Tactical Director

Captain Gilberto Ortiz

Battle Analyst/Deputy Director

First Lieutenant Cody J. Hennelly

Sensor Operator

Staff Sergeant Michael Diachenko

Engagement Control Team Leader

Sergeant Josef R. Carstens

Communications Operator


Distinguished guests and presenters included U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK); Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Admiral James Syring; Commander of U.S. Alaska Command, Lieutenant General Russell Handy; Assistant Adjutant General of the Alaska Army National Guard Colonel Joseph Streff; Commander of the 213th Space Warning Squadron Lieutenant Colonel John Oberist; and the publisher of the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Dispatch, Ms. Alice Rogoff.

The Ground Based Midcourse System is North America’s only line of defense against incoming ballistic missile threats. Fort Greely, Alaska is home to 27 of the 30 Ground Based Interceptors currently deployed.

“Alaska as the centerpiece for our architecture for the defense of the homeland,” said MDAA Chairman Riki Ellison in his remarks. “This is the only place in the world from where we can protect all 50 States from the nuclear ICBM threat from North Korea.”
In addition to the systems currently in place, Alaska will be the site for new missile defense technologies, such a new Long Range Discriminating Radar that will fill in sensor gaps to enable better tracking and discrimination of the missile threats over the Pacific Ocean.
“It is so important to recognize this state, these crews and this system as we move forward into defending and deterring against a complex world of escalating threats to our national security,” Ellison concluded.


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.