2018 U.S. Missile Defender of the Year

Alexandria, Virginia – January 11, 2019

MDAA brought forward our nation’s very best missile defender from each of the four military services from around the world to be honored and recognized for excellence in leadership in 2018. This leadership of excellence from Chief Warrant Officer to Captain, and from our Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard, represented the apex of U.S. missile defense around the world today and put forward under the command of the Commander and Chief, President Donald Trump.

The four honorees, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lucas Watterson of the U.S. Army, Captain Rex Villa of the U.S. Air Force, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jacob Moore of the U.S. National Guard, and Lieutenant Junior Grade McKenzie Anderson of the U.S. Navy led from their positions of command earning respect, trust, and honor for their actions on the four most prominent missile defense platforms and systems that have been put in place in the world today.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lucas Watterson
32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command
Fort Bliss, Texas

Listen to Lieutenant General Tom Seamands introduce CW3 Watterson and CW3 Watterson’s acceptance speech.


Captain Rex Villa
55th Operations Group, 55th Wing
Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska

Listen to Lieutenant General David Thompson introduce Capt Villa and Capt Villa’s acceptance speech.


Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jacob Moore
49th Missile Defense Battalion
Fort Greely, Alaska

Listen to Lieutenant General Dan Hokanson introduce CW4 Moore and CW4 Moore’s acceptance speech.


Lieutenant Junior Grade McKenzie Anderson
Aegis BMD Destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78)
Rota, Spain

Listen to Vice Admiral Dixon Smith introduce LTJG Anderson and CDR John Tobin accept the award on behalf of LTJG Anderson.

Presenting these inspirational leaders were distinguished flag officers of each of the respective four services that commanded their mission of deterrence and defense to provide stability and peace to the populations and homelands that they protect.

Lieutenant General Tom Seamands
Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
U.S. Army


Lieutenant General David Thompson
Vice Commander, Air Force Space Command
U.S. Air Force


Lieutenant General Daniel Hokanson
Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau
U.S. National Guard


Vice Admiral Dixon Smith
Deputy Chief of Naval Operation, Fleet Readiness and Logistics
U.S. Navy

The annual Missile Defender of the Year for the United States of America is held in Alexandria, Virginia on the second Friday in the first month of the year, commemorating the first U.S. combat missile intercept, which occurred in January 18, 1991 when a Patriot air defense system intercepted an Iraqi Scud missile during Operation Desert Storm.


Program Final

Audio Recording of Riki Ellison’s Closing Remarks at the Ceremony



Lieutenant Junior Grade McKenzie Anderson, United States Navy

LTJG Anderson was commissioned on 15 May 2015 through the Navy ROTC program at George Washington University and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs. Following graduation, he reported to Basic Division Officer Course in Norfolk, Virginia. LTJG Anderson then reported to USS Porter in Rota, Spain as the Electrical

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jacob Moore, National Guard

CW4 Moore was born in Burley, Idaho in December 1971. He entered the Army from Dallas, Texas in February 2000. CW4 Moore serves as the Senior System Integrator in the Operations Section of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion. In this role, he interfaces with partner organizations across Fort Greely and throughout the Ground-based Missile Defense

Captain Rex Villa, United States Air Force

Capt Villa is the Chief Navigator for RC/TC/OC/WC-135, 55th Operations Group, 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. He is responsible for the standardization and evaluations for more than 2,400 aviators in 42 different crew positions across five different aircraft types and serves as the 55th Operations Group’s navigator subject matter expert for flight

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lucas Watterson, United States Army

CW3 Watterson was born and raised in Cassville, New York. He enlisted in the United States Army in August 2001 as a 14E, Patriot Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer. Chief Watterson was appointed as a Warrant Officer in March 2009 as a 140E, Air and Missile Defense Systems Tactician/Technician. CW3 Watterson’s assignments include Systems Maintainer and

Defenders of the Year