Four Airmen Receive Sijan Award
(April 26, 2010)
|WASHINGTON (4/22/2010 - AFNS) -- The Air Force's 2009 Capt.
Lance P. Sijan Award recipients were honored in a ceremony
April 21 in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.|
|Lt. Col. Roger A. Sherman (from left), Capt. Thomas Phillips (accepting on behalf of his sister, Capt. Rachel Phillips), Senior Master Sgt. Jesse D. Schraner and Staff Sgt. Gino P. Kahaunaele pose with their respective 2009 Lance P. Sijan Leadership Awards following a ceremony April 21, 2010, in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes. The annual award was created in 1981 to recognize four Airmen who demonstrate the highest qualities of leadership both in and out of uniform. U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Varhegyi
The Sijan Award annually recognizes four Airmen who
demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities. Officer and
enlisted honorees are chosen in senior and junior
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz served as host
and speaker for the event honoring the recipients and their
families. Gen. C. Robert Kehler, the commander of Air Force
Space Command; Lt. Gen. Donald C. Wurster, the commander of
Air Force Special Operations Command; and Chief Master Sgt.
of the Air Force James A. Roy also attended.
General Schwartz stressed the importance of the award and
its namesake to the Air Force.
"Truly, character is at the base of all this," General
Schwartz said. "It is the character of Lance Sijan and the
character of these four wonderful Air Force leaders who we
honor today. "Because of their character, our Air Force
remains the reliable and trusted partner that we are for the
other members of the joint team. That's what you represent,
and it's something very special."
The general also noted the role family members play in
supporting the Air Force mission.
"Clearly service in the nation's cloth is a team sport," he
said to the spouses, children and other family members
present. "We appreciate your contribution, your sacrifices
to enable your spouse to accomplish those things for which
they're recognized today."
The senior officer recipient is Lt. Col. Roger Sherman, who
is assigned to Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. While deployed
as an electronic warfare officer, Colonel Sherman led the
82nd Airborne Division's first electronic attack missions in
Iraq against enemy forces. Additionally, he controlled and
detected early warning networks that led to the prevention
of five rocket attacks against coalition forces. He also
created a key leader engagement strategy for two Iraqi
provinces, to include building partnerships and increasing
security, that completely eliminated rocket and militia
The junior officer recipient is Capt. Rachel Phillips, who
is assigned to the Air Force Office of Special
Investigations Det. 502 at Sembach Annex, Germany. She
developed, planned and executed strategic-level
counter-intelligence operations to neutralize hostile
intelligence and terrorist groups. During her last
deployment, Captain Phillips led more than 50 missions into
hostile territory in Afghanistan that resulted in the
elimination of seven Taliban extremists from the
She was unable to attend the ceremony due to air travel
delays caused by volcanic ash, so her brother accepted the
award in her stead.
The senior enlisted recipient is Senior Master Sgt. Jesse
Schraner, a vehicle operations superintendent assigned to
Hurlburt Field, Fla. While deployed, he led 223 convoy
missions in Iraq and Kuwait that safely transported 300,000
tons of supplies over 4 million miles, providing war-making
and life-sustaining material to approximately 100,000
warfighters. He also prevented battlefield complacency
through hands-on leadership that resulted in no Airmen
killed or wounded despite 17 small-arms insurgent attacks.
The junior enlisted recipient is Staff Sgt. Gino Kahaunaele,
who is assigned to Pope AFB, N.C. As a special operations
force pararescueman, Sergeant Kahaunaele's heroism and
bravery in the midst of direct and accurate enemy fire
resulted in eight American lives being saved. With total
disregard for his own safety, he sprinted into a hail of
gunfire to drag a pinned-down, wounded teammate to safety
where he used his advanced trauma medical skills to
stabilize and save the operator's life. Additionally,
Sergeant Kahaunaele led a combat search and rescue team
through 45 combat sorties over the world's most hostile
Sergeant Kahaunaele shared his reaction to the award.
"There's really no fathoming this; it's incredible to be
here," he said. "My teammates and I always said to
ourselves, 'Just show up and be better than the enemy.'"
The Lance P. Sijan award was first presented in 1981. It is
named in honor of the first U.S. Air Force Academy graduate
to receive the Medal of Honor. Captain Sijan was shot down
over Vietnam Nov. 9, 1967, and evaded capture for 45 days
despite severe injuries. He later died while in a North
Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp. He posthumously received
the Medal of Honor for his heroism.
By USAF TSgt. Amaani Lyle|
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
Air Force News
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