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Langley hosts Shine fighter pilot award ceremony

The 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 Lt. Col. Anthony C. Shine Fighter Pilot Award winners received engraved knives from Shine’s family during a ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Aug. 11, 2016. Maj. Gen. Thomas Deale, left, the Air Combat Command Headquarters director of operations, presented the winners their awards with the Shine family. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. R. Alex Durbin)

The 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 Lt. Col. Anthony C. Shine Fighter Pilot Award winners received engraved knives from Shine’s family during a ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Aug. 11, 2016. Maj. Gen. Thomas Deale, left, the Air Combat Command Headquarters director of operations, presented the winners their awards with the Shine family. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. R. Alex Durbin)

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFNS) -- Pilots from across the Air Force gathered for the 2015 Lt. Col. Anthony C. Shine Fighter Pilot Award ceremony here Aug. 11.

The award is presented annually to recognize an exceptional Air Force fighter pilot who has proven excellence and professionalism in flight, as well as dedication to community service.

“These pilots continue to be men who serve for more than themselves,” said Colleen Shine, daughter of Lt. Col. Shine, the award’s namesake. “They have devoted hours to their community and to the communities where they were deployed.”

Colleen’s mother established the award when her husband, an A-7 Corsair II pilot, did not return home from the Vietnam War. Colonel Shine was missing in action for 24 years, and in 1996 his remains were repatriated and honored with a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

Colleen continues to raise awareness for those who are prisoners of war or MIA, by focusing attention on the plight of America’s prisoners and missing not only in Vietnam but also from World War II and the Korean War. The prestigious award continues to honor her father’s legacy while bringing awareness to his fate.

For this year’s award, winners from 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 were presented with the Shine award together, a first for the award.

“We are doing these awards together because of deployments,” Colleen said. “This award is a reminder of the POW/MIA commitment to bring each service member back home. These pilots are experiencing deployments and losses just like those who flew in Vietnam. It’s the theme of continuity.”

Capt. Brian earned the 2015 Shine award while assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base, South Korea; Maj. David earned the 2014 award while assigned to the 16th Weapons Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada; Capt. Daniel earned the 2013 award while assigned to the 389th FS at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; and Capt. Hugh earned the 2011 award while assigned to the 77th FS at Shaw AFB, South Carolina.

“Colonel Shine was a notch above the rest and those awarded are held to the same standards,” said Jack Mabry, Air Combat Command Headquarters formal training manager. “They are the most distinguished fighter pilots not only with flying but with community involvement as well.”

As Colleen remembers and honors her father through this award, Mabry credits her dedication to keeping the POW/MIA mission alive for the Americans still unaccounted for.

“We don’t do what we do for awards,” said Brian, now a weapons school instructor at Nellis AFB. “We do it to be the best pilots we can be for our Air Force, for our nation, just as a way to uphold the example, uphold the excellence that fighter pilots before us have done. That’s what is important.”

(Editor’s note: Some last names were removed due to safety and security concerns.)

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