2021 U.S. Missile Defender of the Year

Alexandria, Virginia – January 14, 2022

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 2021. This leadership of excellence from Technical Sergeant to Major, and from our Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, and Space Force, represented the apex of U.S. missile defense around the world today and put forward under the command of the Commander in Chief, President Joe Biden.

The five honorees, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Howard of the U.S. National Guard, Sergeant First Class Matthew Crain of the U.S. Army, Lieutenant Kristen Ringwall of the U.S. Navy, Major Robert Heath Matthews of the U.S. Air Force, and Technical Sergeant X. Victor Kearney of the U.S. Space Force, led from their positions of command and leadership to earn respect, trust, and honor for their actions in operating and further developing the most prominent integrated air and missile defense platforms and systems that have been put in place in the world today.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Howard
3rd Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment
Florida Army National Guard
U.S. Army National Guard


Sergeant First Class Matthew Crain
38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade
Sagamihara, Japan
U.S. Army


Lieutenant Kristen Ringwall
USS Howard (DDG-83)
Yokosuka, Japan
U.S. Navy


Major Robert Heath Matthews
603d Air Operations Center
Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany
U.S. Air Force


Technical Sergeant X. Victor Kearney
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii
U.S. Space Force

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

Lieutenant General Jon A. Jensen
Director of the Army National Guard
U.S. Army National Guard


Command Sergeant Major John Foley
Senior Enlisted Leader for U.S. Army Recruiting Command
U.S. Army


Vice Admiral Ronald Boxall
Director, Force Structure, Resources and Assessment, J8, Joint Staff
U.S. Navy


Lieutenant General Nina Armagno
Director of Staff, Headquarters, U.S. Space Force
U.S. Space Force


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Technical Sergeant X. Victor Kearney, United States Space Force

TSgt Kearney is a Missile Warning and Defense Operator at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii. As a Missile Defender, TSgt Kearney is in coordination with 67 entities and has dissemination responsibilities to seven subordinate commands with oversight of 375 thousand joint personnel on an ever changing, high stakes operating environment encompassing

Major Robert Heath Matthews, United States Air Force

Maj Matthews is the Chief for Defensive Operations at the 603d Air Operations Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He expertly led his Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) team, consisting of 16 joint missile defense professionals, responsible for defending two combatant commands, integrating ten global agencies with coalition and partner nations in three continents. During

Lieutenant Kristen Ringwall, United States Navy

LT Ringwall is the Fire Control Officer for the USS Howard (DDG-83), homeport at Yokosuka, Japan. Upon LT Ringwall’s arrival, the USS Howard was completing a modernization upgrade after being fitted with Baseline 9.C.2. LT Ringwall built the USS Howard’s Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) program from the ground up. She trained her ship’s combat team

Sergeant First Class Matthew Crain, United States Army

SFC Crain was most recently the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the Intelligence Section (S-2) at the 38th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade, at Sagamihara, Japan. SFC Crain is a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the highest order; his impeccable reliability, superior integrity, and selfless devotion to Air Defense and the Army profession is remarkable.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Howard, United States Army National Guard

CW2 Howard is the Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Command and Control (C2) Systems Integrator for 3rd Battalion, 265th ADA Regiment. From November 2020 to October 2021, CW2 Howard deployed in support of Short-Range Air Defense (SHORAD) operations within Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Spartan Shield. CW2 Howard was responsible for the SHORAD

Defenders of the Year