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Misawa sergeant garners Air Force leadership award

By Senior Airman C. Todd Lopez

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan (Dec. 20, 2000) -- The Air Force is quick to recognize the best in its ranks. One way the service recognizes outstanding leaders is with the Capt. Lance P. Sijan Award.

The Sijan Award was created in 1981 to recognize people assigned to organizations at wing level and below who demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities.

Senior Master Sgt. Lee Allen Gorrell, operations superintendent for the 301st Intelligence Squadron, is Misawa's most recent winner of the award.

Gorrell, along with three other Air Force members, will travel to the Pentagon in March to receive the award. Air Force Gen. Michael E. Ryan, Air Force Chief of Staff, will present the award to the sergeant.

Gorrell learned he won the award a little more than a week ago. Maj. Gen. Orville Wright, commander of the Air Intelligence Agency, informed Gorrell of the honor. Being informed of his receipt of the award struck a chord with the intelligence troop.

"It's a supreme honor and quite humbling," said Gorrell. "Capt. Sijan was a great American Hero."

Correll has excelled in his leadership role through reading, self education and observation.

"I am always observing leaders in action and do a great deal of professional reading about leadership. Military heroes, civilian and political leaders, the PME and even dead Greek philosophers can reveal some clues to become a better leader," said Gorrell. "The key is to never stop trying to improve your leadership style."

"Leaders who don't adapt, change and improve their leadership styles are like football teams that never change their playbook; they lose every game," he said. "The profession of arms is not a game; it's about people's lives and the sovereignty of the United States."

Gorrell's leadership mission involves the delivery of information to the commander of the Joint Forces Air Component, ensuring the ability to make informed decisions in employing air power components.

Gorrel's commander lauded his performance, crediting his leadership ability as one reason troops under his supervision have flourished, becoming award winners at the national, Air Force, wing, group and unit levels.

The leadership award is named for Capt. Lance P. Sijan, an Air Force Academy graduate and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient.

During the Vietnam war, Sijan evaded the North Vietnamese for six weeks after being shot down in November 1967. He died while in captivity in Vietnam.

The last member of Misawa to be recognized for leadership with the Sijan Award was Lt. Col. P.K. White, in 1998. During his tenure at Misawa, White served as commander of the 18th Fighter Squadron.