2019 U.S. Missile Defender of the Year

Alexandria, Virginia – January 10, 2020

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 2019. This leadership of excellence from First Class Petty 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, Captain Cody Williams of the U.S. Army, Captain Nolan Hebein of the U.S. Air Force, Captain Eric Grant of the U.S. National Guard, and Fire Controlman Aegis First Class Petty Officer Mario Amaro 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.

Captain Eric Grant
265th Air Defense Artillery
Grafenwoehr, Germany

Listen to LTC Robert Bellomo accept the award on behalf of CPT Grant.


Captain Nolan Hebein
Small Launch and Targets Division
Kirtland AFB, New Mexico

Listen to Brigadier General John Allen introduce Capt Hebein and Capt Hebein’s acceptance speech.


Fire Controlman Aegis First Class Petty Officer Mario Amaro
Aegis BMD Cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70)
San Diego, California

Listen to Vice Admiral Jim Kilby introduce FCA1 Amaro and FCA1 Amaro’s acceptance speech.


Captain Cody Williams
6th Air Defense Artillery Regiment
Ft. Sill, Oklahoma

Listen to Lieutenant General James Pasquarette introduce CPT Williams and CPT Williams’ acceptance speech.

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.

Brigadier General J. Ray Davis
Assistant Director for Aviation and Information Warfare, U.S. Army National Guard
U.S. Army National Guard


Brigadier General John Allen
Director of Civil Engineers, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering & Force Protection, U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force


Vice Admiral Jim Kilby
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities
U.S. Navy


Lieutenant General Jim Pasquarette
Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, U.S. Army
U.S. Army

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.


2019 DOY Program


Captain Eric Grant, U.S. Army National Guard

CPT Grant enlisted into Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1-265th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) in 2007 as an Air Defense Tactical Operations Center Operator/Maintainer. After reaching the rank of Private First Class, he attended ROTC at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Air Traffic Management while receiving his direct commission and appointment

Captain Nolan Hebein, United States Air Force

Capt Hebein is an Acquisition Manager assigned to the Small Launch and Targets Division (ECLX), Launch Enterprise, Space and Missile Systems Center as the Operations Branch Deputy Chief and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Mission Manager, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. Capt Hebein is from Illinois and graduated from Grant Community High School in May 2010. He

First Class Petty Officer Mario Amaro, United States Navy

FCA1 Amaro is a native of San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from William Howard Taft High School and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June of 2006. FCA1 Amaro’s sea assignments include Aegis Computer Technician/Work Center Supervisor on USS Monterey (CG 61) where he completed two deployments to the 6th Fleet AOR. His second sea

Captain Cody Williams, United States Army

CPT Williams was born and raised in Warren, Pennsylvania. CPT Williams enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 2007 and served two years as a Financial Management Technician before transitioning into the ROTC program. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and commissioned through ROTC at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 2011.

Defenders of the Year