Lance Sijan

Discussion in 'Modern' started by Milos Sijacki, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. Milos Sijacki

    Milos Sijacki Member

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    Lance Peter Sijan (Serbian: Ленс Шијан) -April 13, 1942 – January 22, 1968- was a United States Air Force officer and fighter pilot. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest military award, for his selflessness and courage in the face of lethal danger.

    Biography:

    On his 52nd mission, on the night of November 9, 1967, Sijan and pilot Lt. Col. John Armstrong were tasked with a bombing mission over North Vietnam. As they rolled in on their target to release their ordnance, their F-4C was engulfed in a ball of fire, due to the six bomb's fairly new fuses which malfunctioned causing a pre-mature detonation soon after the release point. The jet then entered a banking climb before plunging into the jungle below. Sijan ejected from his aircraft, and a search-and-rescue crew, radioed to Sijan that they were attempting a rescue. After almost a whole day of locating his position and softening up air defences in the area, the SAR forces were finally able to get one of the big Jolly Green Giant helicopters roughly over Sijan's position (during this operation over 20 aircraft were disabled, due to the anti-aircraft fire, and had to return to base. Another aircraft was also shot down, though its pilot was rescued with ease by one of the Jolly Greens on station.) Sijan, refusing to put another person in danger, insisted that he crawl in to the jungle and have a penetrator lowered by the helicopter, instead of sending down the helicopter's Para-Jumpers to carry him. However, he couldn't reach the penetrator quick enough, and after 33 minutes the rescue team, which faced enemy fire and the growing darkness, had to return to base. Although search efforts continued the next day, they were called off when no further radio contact was made with Sijan, due to his unconscious state, and he was placed in MIA status.

    With a fractured skull, mangled right hand, compound fracture of the left leg, without food and little water, and no survival kit, Sijan evaded enemy forces for 46 days (all the time "crawling" or rather scooting on his back down the rocky limestone karst on which he landed, causing even more wounds) before being captured on December 25, 1967. Although emaciated and in poor shape, he managed to overpower his guard and escape, but was recaptured within hours. He was transported to a holding compound in Vinh, North Vietnam, where he was put into the care of other American POWs, Bob Craner and Guy Gruters. Here, in even more pain from his wounds, he suffered beatings from his captors, but never gave any information other than what the Geneva Convention allowed. After further travel to Hanoi, Sijan suffering from exhaustion, malnutrition, and disease, died in captivity on January 22, 1968.

    Sijan was promoted posthumously to captain on June 13, 1968. His remains were repatriated on March 13, 1974 and positively identified on April 22, 1974. He is buried in Arlington Park Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Sijan's heroism and courage brought him a number of posthumous honors. The Air Force created the Lance P. Sijan Award, recognizing individuals who have demonstrated the highest qualities of leadership in their jobs and in their lives. It has become one of the U.S. Air Force's most prestigious awards.

    Because Sijan was the first graduate of the United States Air Force Academy to be awarded the Medal of Honor, a cadet dormitory, Sijan Hall was named after him. The dormitory was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1976. As part of their training, all fourth-class (freshman) cadets at the Air Force Academy are expected to learn Sijan's story.

    Sijan's high school alma mater, Bay View High School in Milwaukee, set up a scholarship in Sijan's honor, presented each year to a student who best exemplifies Sijan's examples of leadership and courage. A nearby park called Sijan Playfield is dedicated to him, and Milwaukee's Serbian community honors him with a memorial on the grounds of the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. An F-4 Phantom jet fighter on display in front of the 440th Air Force Reserve at Mitchell Airport is also painted using the same color scheme as the one flown by him. [1]

    In June, 2006, before the 440th Airlift Wing was relocated to Pope AFB in North Carolina, there were calls to move the F-4 Phantom jet fighter display from Mitchell International Airport to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Lake Michigan lake front. Currently, the display continues to be housed at Mitchell until more permanent plans have been made.
     

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  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    I read a book about him years ago. It was called "Into the Mouth of the Cat". If I remember correctly, it was quite a story.
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    There's a sh!tload of stuff around here honoring him - you see his name and photo everywhere.
     
  4. Bill G.

    Bill G. Banned

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    And Captain Sijan should be honored. His is one heck of a story!

    Bill G.
     
  5. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Have to agree with Bill. Amazing story there! :salute:
     
  6. Milos Sijacki

    Milos Sijacki Member

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    ''With a fractured skull, mangled right hand, compound fracture of the left leg, without food and little water, and no survival kit, Sijan evaded enemy forces for 46 days (all the time "crawling" or rather scooting on his back down the rocky limestone karst on which he landed, causing even more wounds) before being captured on December 25, 1967. Although emaciated and in poor shape, he managed to overpower his guard and escape, but was recaptured within hours.''

    It was a real miracle that he even survived with those injuries for 46 days.

    Glory to Him.
     
  7. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Amazing story. He certainly deserves all the honours he gets. It is a amazing he managed to survive for so long with those injuries and in enemy territory. :salute:
     
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