USS Lake Erie sailor honored as Missile Defender of the Year

Vice Adm. James W. Kilby, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, poses for a picture with Fire Controlman (Aegis) First Class (FCA1) Mario Amaro from the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70); Amaro was honored with MDAA’s Navy Missile Defender of the Year award for 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Information Management Specialist Laurie Buchanan/Released)
February 04, 2020

The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) honored Fire Controlman (Aegis) First Class Mario Amaro as the Navy recipient of the Missile Defender of the Year award during an annual banquet honoring the best missile defense Soldier, Sailor, Airman and National Guard member for their outstanding efforts in Alexandria Va., Jan. 10.

“I am overwhelmed to be here this evening. I am just a Sailor doing my job. I am honored to receive this award, and do so on behalf of all the Sailors who are in harm’s way, working tirelessly as part of a team that will keep our country and our allies safe,” said Amaro. “I am just one person; it takes all of us, together, to get the job done.”

Vice Adm. James Kilby, deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, and Riki Ellison, Chairman and Founder of MDAA, presented the Navy’s ‘Missile Defender of the Year’ award to Amaro. Army Capt. Cody Williams, Air Force Capt. Nolan Hebein, and Army National Guard Capt. Eric Grant were recipients of their respective service’s Missile Defender of the Year award.

“There’s some mission areas that generate enthusiasm and focus, and BMD is one of those areas,” said Kilby. “FCA1 Amaro wanted to make a career out of the Navy and he has absolutely crushed it. He is pursuing his computer science degree. He is an Aegis Systems supervisor, and most extraordinary, he is Master Helmsman qualified. In addition, he is Combat System Coordinator qualified, Anti-Air Warfare Coordinator qualified and BMD Watch Officer qualified. I know of no other petty officer that has achieved one, much less three of those qualifications. That is extraordinary!”

As the combat systems assistant maintenance manager in 2019 aboard the USS Lake Erie (CG 70), Amaro worked with the systems test officer and combat systems maintenance manager coordinating all preventative and corrective maintenance for 20 work centers within Combat Systems, Weapons and Operations departments.

Amaro was Lake Erie’s only Aegis system supervisor and computer technician, and his efforts trouble-shooting and repairing more than 15 ballistic missile defense (BMD) computer casualties resulted in 100% operability, completion of BMD certification, BMD Exercise 19-04, and two live BMD tasking missions.

“FCA1 Amaro is an inspirational leader, mentor and computer technician, with experience honed through operational execution while deployed in a joint ballistic missile defense environment,” said Capt. David Zook, deputy Director of SMWDC’s IAMD Division. “FCA1 Amaro has a tremendous record of success and he is a true role model for his peers.”

SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and exists to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains. SMWDC headquarters is at Naval Base San Diego with four divisions in Virginia and California focused on IAMD, Anti-Submarine Warfare/Surface Warfare, Mine Warfare, and Amphibious Warfare.