ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Jan. 15, 2013) Fire Controlman 2nd Class Ronald Barbee, assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63), accepts the Missile Defender of the Year Award from Vice Adm. William R. Burke. (U. S. Navy photo)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - With the words, "It is a team effort and I thank the members of my ship for making this possible," Fire Controlman 2nd Class Ronald Barbee from USS Stethem (DDG 63) accepted the coveted Missile Defender of the Year Award from Vice Adm. William R. Burke, deputy chief of Naval Operations Warfare Systems and Mr. Rikki Ellison, chairman and founder of Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

The annual MDAA-sponsored event honors the best missile defense Soldier, Sailor, Airman and National Guard member for their outstanding efforts with missile defense.

"These four select individuals represent the best in leadership and personal effort, demonstrating their commitment to excellence and their critical role in missile defense. They are an inspiration to their subordinates, peers and superiors," said Ellison.

The other 2012 Defender of the Year Award winners were: Army Capt. Kyle Kirkpatrick, Dugway Proving Ground, Utah; Air Force Capt. Gregory Tengco, Thule Air Base, Greenland; and National Guard Sgt. Aric Wilkins, Fort Greely, Alaska.

The Sailors on the Stethem, which is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and Barbee represent a "generation of Sailors who have shouldered an important load. Shipwide they are tactical and technical experts and FC2 Barbie is both a tactical and technical expert," Burke said Aduring the awards presentation.

Barbee, from Fort Wayne, Ind., joined the Navy in 2009. He is a graduate of the SPY-1D radar system school and Ballistic Missile Defense Course. He reported to Stethem in February 2011 as a radar technician. In March of this year, this ship deployed to the Fifth Fleet area of operations.

"Petty Officer Barbee's drive and knowledge are vital components of Stethem's mission accomplishment and success. He is a charismatic leader and is always ready and eager to support his ship in the execution of all ballistic missile defense missions," said his commander in the award's submission.

After receiving his award and a signed San Francisco 49er's number 50 Riki Ellison jersey, Barbee thanked those in attendance and recognized Patrick and Kathy Stethem. Patrick's brother, Petty Officer Robert Stethem, a Navy Seabee diver, was murdered in Beirut during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847. The ship was named after him in 1995.

"Thanks to the Stethems for being with us," said Barbee, "The legacy of Robert is the legacy of our ship and we all try to live up to our motto, 'steadfast and courageous.'"

Barbee left the stage to a rousing ovation.