By Louise Brown
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Air Force officials recently announced the winners of the 2012 Lance P. Sijan Air Force Leadership Award.
The Lance P. Sijan Air Force Leadership Award recognizes Airmen who have demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities.
The senior officer category winner is Lt. Col. Nathan C. Green, who is assigned to Hurlburt Field, Fla. As an Air Force Office of Special Investigations commander deployed to Iraq for 142 days, Green oversaw the M-28 Skytruck transition from a theater light mobility to a combat resupply aircraft, and directed the first ever M-28 airdrop in combat. He led a three-ship formation airdrop that came under fire from anti-aircraft artillery. According to his commander, Green’s direction saved a critical airdrop, aircrew and aircraft. In garrison, the colonel improved his squadron's alert commitment to national emergencies from 38 to 85 percent.
The junior officer recipient is Capt. Blake O. Luttrell, Special Tactics Officer, 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, N.C., Air Force Special Operations Command. While engaged in close battle with Afghan Taliban, Luttrell charged a cave entrance and pulled a wounded teammate from the kill zone. According to his commander, the captain guided in "danger close" airstrikes that defeated the enemy, saved his team and earned him the Silver Star for valor. Additionally, he conducted 24 other combat missions during which his close-air-support neutralized Taliban insurgents.
The senior enlisted category winner is Senior Master Sgt. Davide Keaton, who is assigned to Hurlburt Field, Fla., AFSOC. Keaton established a critical Personnel Recovery Coordination Cell for the Commander International Security Assistance Force directed task force, establishing comprehensive rescue coverage for five commands, 160 aircraft and 12,000 warriors. Additionally, he managed a $400 million-portfolio and directed the combat readiness of a 900-member force, driving 14 deployments spanning four theaters, resulting in 3,000 combat operations. According to his commander, Keaton also epitomized service before self when he saved an elderly woman trapped inside a submerged vehicle.
The junior enlisted category winner is Technical Sgt. Tavis J. Delaney, Washington Air National Guard. Deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Sergeant Delaney led his tactical air control party in ground operations against enemy forces in Regional Command-East, employing 165 hours of close air support assets against a determined enemy. According to his commander, during a 16-hour battle, Delaney controlled 26 airstrikes, many within close proximity to friendly forces, eliminating the insurgent threat and ensuring the safe return of all 64 coalition members. For his focus on prosecuting airstrikes and rallying coalition troops over personal safety, he earned the Silver Star.
The Lance P. Sijan award, first awarded in 1981, was established in honor of the first U.S. Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. A 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 Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp and was posthumously presented the Medal of Honor for his heroism.