An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Barksdale recognizes Lance P. Sijan award nominees

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jovante Johnson
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Nov. 19, 1967, 25-year-old Lance P. Sijan on a mission over Laos, ejected from his aircraft to the jungle below. Suffering a skull fracture, a mangled right hand, a double compound fracture to his left leg, and no food or water, he managed to evade capture for the next 45 days. Captured on Christmas day 1967, After much torture and interrogation, Sijan refused to tell the enemy any information that would put his beloved country and fellow POWs at risk. Sijan died in a prison camp in North Vietnam on Jan. 22, 1968. Barksdale honors Sijan annually with an award in his honor.

The Lance P. Sijan award recognizes the accomplishments of officers and enlisted leaders who demonstrate the highest qualities of leadership in the performance of their duties and the conduct of their lives.

Barksdale Air Force Base has nominated eight Airmen for the Lance P. Sijan award at the wing level and after speaking with a nominee, they are beyond honored to be in the race for the award.

“I am not only honored but extremely humbled for the opportunity to have been nominated for such a prestigious award,” said Carolina Levine, Air Force Strategic Command supply manager. “I have been nominated for many awards, and have won some as well, but nothing as big as the Lance P. Sijan. This award is on another level to me.”

Nominees are rated on their scope of responsibility, professional leadership, and community involvement. Each nominee goes through a selection process that progresses from squadron level up to Air Force level, where the award winner will be announced at the Pentagon in 2022. 

Mrs. Janine Sijan, the younger sister of Lance P. Sijan, made a trip to Barksdale AFB to meet with the eight nominees and share some insight into her life and who her brother was, not only to her but to the rest of their family and friends.

“Lance had a way of making everyone he came in contact with feel like they were the only thing that mattered at that time,” said Sijan. “At family gatherings, he would be on the floor with the kids, and next to the rocking chairs with the elders. Lance was always the glue.”

Sijan has spent the last ten years of her life making a movie about the life of her brother, and she makes it her duty to share this film with as many people as she can. She makes it evident that her brother has impacted her life more than he could ever know.

“Just about everything I do has some influence from my brother and the way he lived his life,” said Sijan. “Everything from decisions I make going through a ‘Lance filter’ meaning if I have something I am going through that I feel I want to give up on I tell myself, ‘if Lance could go through what he went through, then I can get through this.’ Other things such as keeping things to myself that aren’t nice because Lance was big on ‘If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.’ His influence runs deep in me and the people he was around.”

Sijan lives by the same things her brother did and wants the nominees to do the same. Since its inception in 1981, Sijan has felt the award is a character reference to who Lance was and she wants the nominees to understand the expectations and responsibility that is put on them from now on whether they are chosen as the winner of the award or not.

“I want the nominees to have a sense of humility, that is the number one expectation because that is who Lance was. He knew he didn’t get to where he was alone and that is something Lance let everyone know,” said Sijan. “I want the nominees to understand this award is them being recognized for being exceptional, and I want them to recognize the fullness of the mission Lance set out to do and continue that. Last but not least, I want the nominees to have a great sense of pride and responsibility for what they do and help those around them reach their goals.”

Honest, humble, and responsible are just a few words Janine used to describe her brother Lance. Others had more words to describe Lance, as well as what the nomination meant to them.

“Lance P. Sijan was courageous, honorable and someone to look up to and model life after,” said Tech. Sgt. Lucas Drake, 2nd Bomb Wing/Command Post NCOIC nuclear command and control operations systems. “I feel honored to be a nominee. I know I didn’t get here alone and if I do win this award, this won’t be an award for just me but also for the people I work with every day that got me in this position.”

Barksdale wishes the best of luck to all the nominees and hopes to see all of them in Washington D.C. next year.