HomeNewsArticle Display

Remembering Sijan

Janine Sijan,Capt. Lance Sijan's sister, speaks to Team Buckley about her brother's life at the Leadership Development Center on Buckley Air force Base March 27, 2019.Capt. Sijan died January 22, 1968, and was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Codie Collins)

Janine Sijan,Capt. Lance Sijan's sister, speaks to Team Buckley about her brother's life at the Leadership Development Center on Buckley Air force Base March 27, 2019.Capt. Sijan died January 22, 1968, and was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Codie Collins)

Team Buckley came together to remember Capt. Lance Sijan at a viewing of a documentary of his life at the Leadership Development Center March 27, 2019. Capt. Sijan died January 22, 1968, and was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Codie Collins)

Team Buckley came together to remember Capt. Lance Sijan at a viewing of a documentary of his life at the Leadership Development Center March 27, 2019. Capt. Sijan died January 22, 1968, and was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Codie Collins)

Team Buckley came together to remember Capt. Lance Sijan at a viewing of a documentary of his life at the Leadership Development Center March 27, 2019. Capt. Sijan died January 22, 1968, and was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Codie Collins)

Team Buckley came together to remember Capt. Lance Sijan at a viewing of a documentary of his life at the Leadership Development Center March 27, 2019. Capt. Sijan died January 22, 1968, and was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Codie Collins)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo --

Team Buckley came together to remember Capt. Lance Sijan at a viewing of a documentary of his life at the Leadership Development Center March 27, 2019.

Sijan died January 22, 1968, and was the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. He lived the code of conduct to his last breath and left a legacy of love and leadership for Airmen today to follow.

Ejected from his fighter jet over Laos in 1967, Sijan spent 46 days evading capture from the Viet Cong. Sijan suffered a fractured skull, a mangled right hand, and a compound fracture of the left leg, but managed to travel three miles by dragging himself across the jungle, passing in and out of consciousness, in hopes he would find safety.

Despite his efforts, he was captured by the Viet Cong on Christmas Day, 1967. He was 80 pounds and close to death, but he was a million miles away from giving up. Lance believed in freedom and his fellow Airmen. Though tortured and in extreme poor health, Sijan did not release any information to his captors.

“He never gave up on the idea of escape in all the days they were together” said Retired Col Bob Craner, five year prisoner of war and cellmate of Sijan. “In fact, that was one of the first things he mentioned when we first went into his cell at Vinh: ‘How the hell are we going to get out of here? Have you guys figured out how we’re going to take care of these people? Do you think we can steal one of their guns?’”

Sijan died while in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp and was posthumously presented the Medal of Honor for heroism. Lance’s body, along with the headstone used to mark his grave in North Vietnam, was returned to the United States in 1974 for interment in Milwaukee.

 “The man represented something,” said Sylvester Sijan, father of Lance. “The old cliché that he was a hero and represented guts and determination is true. That’s what he really represented. How much of that was really Lance? What he is, what he did, the facts are there.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.