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Air Force honors Airmen with 2024 Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The Pentagon's Hall of Heroes echoed with applause April 8, as four Airmen received the Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award.

Maj. Kristen Ober, Capt. Marc D. Esposito, Master Sgt. Thomas R. Johnson and Staff Sgt. Amos Kim were honored for their exceptional leadership qualities, embodying the fundamental values of the U.S. Air Force.

• Maj. Kristin A. Ober led a team overseeing and training thousands of engineers across Europe and Africa, ensuring the sustainment of billions of dollars in facilities.

• Capt. Marc D. Esposito commanded the most diverse flight in Air Education and Training Command, managing a multi-million-dollar budget and ensuring the successful training of hundreds of personnel.

• Master Sgt. Thomas R. Johnson led a team of explosive ordnance disposal specialists, ensuring the safe and effective execution of range operations and deployments.

• Staff Sgt. Amos D. Kim played a key role in coordinating the first-ever KC-46 air combat flights and championed critical data collection efforts.

“Thank you all for being here, especially to the recipients and their families,” said Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “You should all be very proud of your accomplishments.”

The award is annually conferred upon Airmen who best exemplify Sijan’s leadership qualities such as courage, integrity, perseverance and self-sacrifice.

“Capt. Sijan was the epitome of what we look for in our leaders,” Kendall said. “For 46 days, he survived in the jungle before the North Vietnamese found him. After his capture, it is reported that he spent every moment consumed with escaping and living up to the code of conduct, living up to the highest standards of what is expected of those who serve and become captured.”

During remarks, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin commended the awardees for their exceptional leadership qualities.

“This is not about just doing the job,” Allvin said. “There is a difference between doing the job and committing to the mission. Captain Sijan’s mission was to uphold all the values in the code of conduct.”

Following the addresses of Kendall and Allvin, the award citation for each recipient was read and they were each presented a plaque. Ober, unable to attend the ceremony, was presented her award by Allvin a few days earlier during his visit to Kadena Air Base, Japan.

“Today is a recognition, not only of what you’ve done, but what we know you can achieve for our Air Force,” Allvin said during the Pentagon ceremony. “I could not be prouder to be able to stand here with you today and share in the moment as you receive this award named for one of our most honored Airmen.”


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