2022 U.S. Missile Defender of the Year

Alexandria, Virginia – January 20, 2023

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 2022. This leadership of excellence 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, Sergeant First Class Patrick Sharp of the U.S. National Guard, First Sergeant John O’Connor of the U.S. Army, Lieutenant Pasquale Cassese of the U.S. Navy, Airman First Class Garrett Tully of the U.S. Air Force, and Specialist 4 Jonah Friese 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.

Specialist 4 Jonah Friese
2nd Space Warning Squadron (2SWS)
Buckley SFB, Colorado
U.S. Space Force


Airman First Class Garrett Tully
603rd Air Operation Center
Ramstein Air Base, Germany
U.S. Air Force


Lieutenant Pasquale Cassese
USS The Sullivans
DDG 68
U.S. Navy


First Sergeant John M. O’Connor
10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command
Ansbach, Germany
U.S. Army


Sergeant First Class Patrick Sharp
1st Battalion, 211th Regiment
Florida Army National Guard
U.S. National Guard


Sergeant First Class Patrick Sharp, United States Army National Guard

Sergeant First Class Patrick Sharp’s military career began in June of 2009 when he enlisted in the Florida Army National Guard as a 14J, Air Defense C4I Tactical Operations Center Enhanced Operator / Maintainer. SFC Sharp has served as a team chief, a Sentinel Section Sergeant, Sentinel Platoon Sergeant, Air Defense Instructor, Air Defense Course

First Sergeant John O’Connor, United States Army

1SG John M. O’Connor enlisted in the United States Army on 19 March 2002 where he was awarded the MOS of 14S Avenger Crew Member (later become the MOS 14P). His first duty assignment was with D/3-4 ADAR, 82ND ABN DIV; Fort Bragg, NC., where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq. Upon

Lieutenant Pasquale Cassese, United States Navy

Lieutenant Cassese graduated from Saint Augustine College Preparatory School in May of 2014. He earned his commission through the Norwich University ROTC Program in 2018 and graduated from Norwich University with a Bachelors of Civil Engineering the same year. Following his commission, he reported to USS THE SULLIVANS (DDG 68), home-ported in Mayport, FL in

Airman First Class Garrett Tully, United States Air Force

A1C Garrett F. Tully is an Air Tasking Order Production Technician for the 603rd Air Operation Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany as of November 2022. His previous duty was a Tactical Datalink Manager for the Joint Interface Control Cell. He was the primary datalink maintainer in charge of ensuring situational awareness to US Forces and

Specialist 4 Jonah Friese, United States Space Force

Specialist 4 Jonah B. D. Friese serves as a Mission Crew Chief to the Second Space Warning Squadron (2SWS) Buckley SFB, Colorado. Specialist 4 Friese enables the time critical decisions to ensure 1st alert and early warning indications to US military, civilian, and allied forces across the globe. He enlisted into the Air Force on

Defenders of the Year