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Four Airmen Honored With 2011 Sijan Award
by Senior Airman Christina Brownlow - April 14, 2012

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WASHINGTON (4/9/2012) -- For demonstrating outstanding leadership, four airmen received the 2011 Lance P. Sijan USAF Leadership Award during a ceremony, April 6, in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presented the Lance P. Sijan USAF Leadership Award to this year's recipients: (from left) Maj. Laura DeJong, Capt Gilbert Wyche II, Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Sterner and Tech. Sgt. Nathanael Hoag, during a ceremony in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes, April 6, 2012, Washington, D.C. The Sijan award was created in 1981 to recognize individuals who demonstrate the highest qualities of leadership both in and out of uniform. U.S. Air Force photo by Jim Varhegyi
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presented the Lance P. Sijan USAF Leadership Award to this year's recipients: (from left) Maj. Laura DeJong, Capt Gilbert Wyche II, Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Sterner and Tech. Sgt. Nathanael Hoag, during a ceremony in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes, April 6, 2012, Washington, D.C. The Sijan award was created in 1981 to recognize individuals who demonstrate the highest qualities of leadership both in and out of uniform. U.S. Air Force photo by Jim Varhegyi

 Named in honor of the first U.S. Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor, the award annually recognizes officer and enlisted honorees in senior and junior categories who best exemplify the service's core values of integrity, service and excellence.

Maj. Laura DeJong, criminal investigations policy and program manager for the Air Force Inspector General's Office here; Capt. Gilbert Wyche, mobility and resources officer in charge for the 48th Security Forces Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England; Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Sterner, command explosive ordnance disposal superintendent for Pacific Air Forces at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; and Tech. Sgt Nathaniel Hoag, combat controller with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Field, N.C., were honored during the ceremony.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz hosted the event, lauding the honorees during remarks to those attending.

"We recognize these four outstanding
individuals for demonstrating the highest quality of leadership," Schwartz said. "They continue to exemplify our core values of integrity, service, and excellence, just as Lance Sijan did not too many decades ago."

DeJong led a joint 21-person team overseeing 205 missions conducting offensive counterintelligence in northern Iraq. Her accomplishments led to her selection as the 8th Field Investigations Region's Field Grade Officer of the Year and the Women in Federal Law Enforcement Outstanding Federal Law Agent of the Year for 2010.

Wyche took command of a perimeter sector during a three-hour complex ground attack while deployed to Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Despite being wounded by an enemy hand grenade, he engaged 19 enemy forces with small arms fire at close range.

Sterner expertly led EOD teams in the successful completion of over 600 combat missions while deployed. He managed over $20 million in vehicles and equipment as his teams supported joint and coalition forces across a 100-square-mile area in southern Afghanistan.

Hoag controlled 384 aircraft in 64 combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, resulting in the death or capture of 133 enemy combatants. He also led an eight-day close air support training course that tested new tactics and technology, as well as certified 18 Airmen for combat.

"You will note common threads that bind each one of these four: devotion to duty, impeccable leadership and, most importantly, the character that underwrites all they do so they can offer America the highest standard of performance and excellence," Schwartz said.

Hoag echoed the sentiments of the other award winners, saying he was honored and humbled to receive the award.

"This award goes to my teammates," Hoag said. "I am here on their behalf to receive it."

The Lance P. Sijan USAF Leadership Award was first presented in 1981. During his 52nd combat mission, Sijan was shot down over Vietnam on 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 Senior Airman Christina Brownlow
Air Force Public Affairs Agency – Pentagon
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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