HomeNewsArticle Display

Pentagon hosts Sijan award presentation, first-ever resiliency event

Retired Capt. Guy Gruters, a Vietnam prisoner of war who was confined with Capt. Lance P. Sijan during his final days, speaks on how Sijan changed his life during an event at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., April 17, 2019. Sijan was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage while evading capture and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Vietnam Nov. 9, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

Retired Capt. Guy Gruters, a Vietnam prisoner of war who was confined with Capt. Lance P. Sijan during his final days, speaks on how Sijan changed his life during an event at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., April 17, 2019. Sijan was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage while evading capture and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Vietnam Nov. 9, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

Senior Master Sgt. Alison Middleton, Master Sgt. Joshua Phillips, Capt. M. Helen Marino and Lt. Col. Mark Garlow, recipients of the 2017 Lance P. Sijan award, stand with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Ms. Janine Sijan-Rozina at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., April 17, 2019. Sijan was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage while evading capture and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Vietnam on Nov. 9, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya)

Senior Master Sgt. Alison Middleton, Master Sgt. Joshua Phillips, Capt. M. Helen Marino and Lt. Col. Mark Garlow, recipients of the 2017 Lance P. Sijan award, stand with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Ms. Janine Sijan-Rozina at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., April 17, 2019. Sijan was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage while evading capture and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Vietnam on Nov. 9, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya)

Airmen and their families gathered for a resiliency event screening of the documentary Sijan, recounting the life and death of Capt. Lance P. Sijan, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., April 17, 2019. Sijan was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage while evading capture and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Vietnam Nov. 9, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

Airmen and their families gathered for a resiliency event screening of the documentary Sijan, recounting the life and death of Capt. Lance P. Sijan, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., April 17, 2019. Sijan was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage while evading capture and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Vietnam Nov. 9, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor)

Lt. Col.  Martin O'Brien, 1st Lt. Jason Quadros, Master Sgt. Veronica Babauta and Master Sgt. Robert Perz, recipients of the 2018 Lance P. Sijan award, stand with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Ms. Janine Sijan-Rozina at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., April 17, 2019. Sijan was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage while evading capture and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Vietnam on Nov. 9, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya)

Lt. Col. Martin O'Brien, 1st Lt. Jason Quadros, Master Sgt. Veronica Babauta and Master Sgt. Robert Perz, recipients of the 2018 Lance P. Sijan award, stand with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Ms. Janine Sijan-Rozina at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., April 17, 2019. Sijan was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage while evading capture and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Vietnam on Nov. 9, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya)

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein presented eight Airmen with the 2017 and 2018 Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award April 17, 2019, at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes in Arlington.

The award was named in honor of the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage while evading capture and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Vietnam Nov. 9, 1967.

The 2018 award recipients: Lt. Col. Martin O’Brien, 1st Lt. Jason Quadros, Master Sgt. Robert Perz and Master Sgt. Veronica Babauta, alongside the 2017 award recipients, were all honored during the ceremony.

“Each of our honorees have their own story. Their commonality is the highest quality of leadership in the performance of their duties and in the conduct of their lives,” Goldfein said. “Just like Capt. Lance Sijan.”

Sijan’s younger sister, Janine Sijan-Rozina, accompanied Goldfein for the presentation of the annual award.

“There was a moment in Lance Sijan’s life that he realized that the cavalry wasn’t coming, and for some that might mean defeat, but for others (like my brother) he leaned into that challenge and he turned it into rocket fuel,” Sijan-Rozina said. “When you have been faced with that same moment, what will you do? I believe you’ll turn it into rocket fuel too.”

First given in 1981, the award recognizes Airmen who have demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities while assigned to organizations at the wing level or below.

“Of all the things we do as leaders, the largest impact that we have on our Airmen is to provide inspirational and courageous leadership,” Goldfein said.

Following the award presentation, officials hosted the first resiliency event within the Pentagon walls. Airmen and their families gathered for a screening of the documentary Sijan, recounting the life and death of the late hero.

Sijan-Rozina, retired Capt. Guy Gruters, a Vietnam POW who was confined with Capt. Lance P. Sijan during his final days, retired Col. Lee Ellis, a Vietnam POW who was stationed with Sijan during the war, and retired Col. Tom Owens, a U.S. Air Force Academy classmate, all paneled together to speak on how Sijan shaped their lives.

“(Sijan) believed, what I hope that we all believe, we would be willing to give up our bodies in order to do the right thing,” said Gruters. “He never backed down.”

The panel went on to speak about how they overcame their own personal challenges after enduring torture and losing the loved ones around them.

“(We) realized that hate (and bitterness) will ruin you, it doesn’t hurt them, but it will ruin you,” said Ellis, describing how he survived being a POW during the Vietnam War. “We helped each other overcome that bitterness so that when we did walk out of that camp, we walked out as free men.”

Sijan’s story of enduring life and death challenges demonstrates the strength of resilience to the point where others may draw the same motivating aspects into their lives.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @WrightPattAFB: Acoustics researchers in AFRL's 711th Human Performance Wing are collecting and delivering acoustics data from hardened…
Get in on the conversation and be sure to subscribe. Link below. https://t.co/tV4TDUMVBK
RT @USAFHealth: Regulating body temperature can mean the difference between life and death. The Air Force is looking into a technology to m…
RT @PACAF: #PACAF photo of the week comes from @EielsonAirForce! This #Airman is testing a new #F35 arctic survival kit. https://t.co/FTAH…
RT @grandslamwing: @SecAFOfficial and @GenDaveGoldfein have arrived to the Grand Slam Wing! Barrett and Goldfein met with AUAB and Qatari l…
RT @AirMobilityCmd: A HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter assigned to @DMAFB was delivered to @MacDill_AFB via a C-5 Super Galaxy assigned to Dover…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: Airmen from @Spangdahlem_AB trained at #BlueFlag Israel with partners and allies like the Hellenic air force @wwwairforcegr
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: What an honor to accompany @SecAFOfficial on her first trip to meet our deployed #Airmen. Looking forward to introduci…
#USAF's 555th Fighter Squadron a.k.a the Triple Nickel and their F-16 Fighting Falcons recently deployed for the fi… https://t.co/0qCMua0WAi
RT @FedExField: Swearing-In Ceremony during the @Redskins #SaluteToService Game. 🇺🇸 https://t.co/pox97AAekX
RT @HQUSAFEPA: Watch USAFE-AFAFRICA Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Basham & @RoyalAirForce Air Marshal Gerry M. Mayhew explain why our strong U.…
RT @cmsaf18: “You (don’t) become a #leader by fighting your way to the top. Rather, you become a leader by helping others to the top.” - W…
RT @USAFCENT: SHARED COMMITMENT | The Commander of the Qatar Emiri Air Force, Staff MG Pilot Salem Bin Hamad Al-Nabet, met with Lt. Gen. Gu…
RT @HQ_AFMC: Our teams at the @AFResearchLab are forever #innovating ... even in the ways they approach problem solving! #creativity #Airme
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Let there be no mistake about our continued commitment to the region. I look forward to continuing the important dialo…
RT @DeptofDefense: A @usairforce airman w/the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, performs refuel training w/ROK Air Force F-16D Falcon during a…
RT @AFGlobalStrike: When you spend 24 hour alerts in the silo, it becomes a second home… Learn about how the 341st Force Support Squadron a…
.@GenDaveGoldfein engaged recruits this past #VeteransDay weekend, asking each why they chose to serve prior to con… https://t.co/vToX52rixv