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AF recognizes 2016 Sijan award winners

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office
Four Airmen received the 2016 Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award during a ceremony at the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, Oct. 5, 2017.

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, who presented the awards, drew comparisons from what the award winners did, to the leadership qualities Sijan displayed.

“One hundred and thirty two incredible Airmen are members of this exclusive Sijan club,” Wilson said. “It includes our 15th chief of staff who won it when he was then Col. Ron Fogleman. Today we are going to welcome four amazing Airmen who have the same traits as Lance into this club. During this past year they’ve all demonstrated immense leadership and determination.”

The 2016 award winners are Lt. Col. Derrick J. Weyand, Capt. Austin T. Almand, Chief Master Sgt. Michael F. Daly and Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Holmes.

According to their individual biographies Weyand directed the build-up for Operation Inherent Resolve and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Syria, supporting 104 deployed aircraft, four services and six coalition countries.

Almand deployed as the deputy commander of a regional special operations joint task force where he coordinated, synchronized and led the dismantling of a persistent terrorist organization that had plagued a country for more than 20 years.

Daly was hand-picked to stand up the Air Force Installation Mission Support Center, authoring the provisional plan, leading the largest business process-reengineering event resulting in the mapping of 70 processes and 110 recommendations shaping 29 capabilities.

Holmes acted as the sole joint terminal attack controller, supporting two separate special forces teams in which he controlled more than 250 fixed and rotary wing aircraft on more than 28 missions.

At the ceremony, Janine Sijan Rozina, Sijan’s sister, spoke about the enduring legacy her brother left behind.

“Lance’s life and legacy has shown us what faith and belief in yourself can do,” said Rozina. “It can take you to places you never dreamed possible. He showed us what it meant to be truly free. In the face of his captors, he never lost faith in his God, his nation, his family and his comrades. For decades I have heard people who have come to know Lance’s story and embrace his life say to themselves ‘he could do that, then I could do this.’”

The award was first presented in 1981 and named in honor of the first U.S. Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. Today, the award recognizes the accomplishments of officers and enlisted leaders who demonstrate the highest qualities of leadership in the performance of their duties and conduct of their lives.

Sijan was shot down over Vietnam Nov. 9, 1967, and evaded capture for 45 days despite severe injuries. He later died while in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp and was presented the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism.

For more information about the Lance P. Sijan Air Force Leadership Award, please visit myPers.