Air Defense System Renamed for Vietnam War Hero

Air Defense System Renamed for Vietnam War Hero

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer unveils the Sgt. Stout system.
Photo by: U.S. Army/Christopher Kaufmann

The Army has renamed its short-range air defense system for Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Mitchell Stout, an artilleryman who was killed protecting his fellow soldiers in Vietnam.

Announced June 15 at the National Museum of the United States Army during a celebration of the Army’s 249th birthday, the Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense system, known as M-SHORAD, is now the Sgt. Stout, named for the only air defense artillery soldier to earn the nation’s highest award for valor.

Stout was honored for “sacrificing his life to protect his fellow Soldiers during the Vietnam War,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in a statement shared on her social media accounts. “The SGT STOUT detects, tracks and engages aerial threats & will protect our Soldiers, like its namesake, well into the future.”

Stout, a native of Loudon, Tennessee, dropped out of high school and enlisted in 1967 at age 17. He completed basic training and paratrooper school before he was discharged for being too young, according to an Army news release. At 18, he returned to the recruiter and signed up, this time as an artilleryman, according to the release.

He completed a tour in Vietnam and returned home in 1969, only to volunteer to do another tour so he could help young soldiers who were still fighting, according to the release. “He wanted to be where he was needed,” said his sister, Susan Tyler, in the release. “That’s the way we grew up. If your country needs you, you do what you can and volunteer.”

On March 12, 1970, Stout and his fellow soldiers with 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, were attacked with heavy mortar fire by a North Vietnamese company at their position at the Khe Gio Bridge.

When the firing stopped, Stout grabbed a grenade that had been tossed into a bunker where he and his men had taken shelter. As he ran to the bunker’s opening with the grenade held close to his body, the grenade exploded, killing him and shielding his fellow soldiers, according to the news release.

“He cared about those soldiers that put their boots on every day, who shine their brass and do their best,” Tyler said in the release. “And that’s what he died for, he died for them.”

Stout was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on July 17, 1974.

“Naming this game-changing air defense capability after Sgt. Stout was appropriate and well-deserved, given his heroic efforts to protect fellow soldiers from danger,” said Douglas Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, in the release. “The M-SHORAD was designed to do the same against a variety of airborne threats.”

The system uses a mix of guns, missiles and onboard sensors attached to a Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle to defend against unmanned aircraft systems and rotary wing and fixed-wing aircraft, according to the Army.

Soldiers with the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Regiment, were the first to receive and test four of the Increment One systems. They successfully conducted live-fire tests at the Putlos Bundeswehr range on the Baltic Sea coast of Germany in 2021 and became fully equipped with the systems in 2023, according to the release.

The Army plans to field 144 air defense systems to four battalions by fiscal year 2025, with an additional 18 systems for training, operational spares and testing, according to the release.

Incremental upgrades to the system will feature enhanced effects, including directed energy and improved missiles and ammunition. The Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office delivered four directed energy systems to 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, last fall.