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30th SFS Defender, 'Guardian Angel' wins AFSPC award

Master Sgt. Horace Coleman IV, 30th Security Forces Squadron flight chief, stands next to a mural depicting his Alpha Flight mascot, Sept. 14, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Coleman was announced as the 2015 Lance P. Sijan award winner for Air Force Space Command on Sept. 2, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson)

Master Sgt. Horace Coleman IV, 30th Security Forces Squadron flight chief, was recently announced as the 2015 Lance P. Sijan award winner for Air Force Space Command, Sept. 14, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Coleman manages the schedules and operations for approximately 80 Airmen who provide Vandenberg its nighttime security and law enforcement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson)

Master Sgt. Horace Coleman IV, 30th Security Forces Squadron flight chief, prepares Airmen for their next shift during guard mount, Sept. 14, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Coleman was announced as the 2015 Lance P. Sijan award winner for Air Force Space Command on Sept. 2, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson)

Master Sgt. Horace Coleman IV, 30th Security Forces Squadron flight chief, prepares Airmen for their next shift during guard mount, Sept. 14, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Coleman was announced as the 2015 Lance P. Sijan award winner for Air Force Space Command on Sept. 2, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Master Sgt. Horace L. Coleman IV, 30th Security Forces Squadron flight chief, was recently named the 2015 Lance P. Sijan award winner for Air Force Space Command, Sep. 2, 2015.

The Lance P. Sijan Award is an Air Force award created in 1981 to recognize individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills in their jobs. The award has since become one of the most prestigious honors Airmen can receive during their Air Force career. After winning the Sijan award for the 30th Space Wing, Coleman then advanced to represent Vandenberg AFB at Air Force Space Command.

"I was definitely in shock, this is the highest level award I have received," said Coleman. "The best part has been hearing from previous mentors and others telling me to not be shocked, and that I deserve this."

The award itself is named after Capt. Lance Sijan, an Air Force fighter pilot whose aircraft exploded during an attack over Vietnam on Nov. 9, 1967. After ejecting from his plane he managed to evade capture for 45 days despite severe injuries. He was eventually caught and imprisoned in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp where he later died. He was presented the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism and for maintaining the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force. The Sijan award continues to be presented to Airmen today who display their own exceptional leadership abilities.

"Given the purpose of this prestigious award, we recognize those individuals who have demonstrated the highest qualities of leadership in their jobs and in their lives," explained Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Lepetri, 30th SFS operations and training superintendent and Coleman's supervisor "As a Security Forces Flight Chief, Coleman embodies the highest elements of a servant leader, inspiring his subordinates, peers, and leaders alike."

Coleman is a mid-shift flight chief for the 30th SFS. He manages the schedules and operations for approximately 80 Airmen who provide the base its nighttime security and law enforcement. During a portion of the award nomination timeframe Coleman was deployed, serving as part of a Security Forces team for the "Guardian Angel" mission with the sole purpose of protecting the lives of soldiers who were working to stand up the Afghanistan Air Force. The combination of his leadership displayed while at Vandenberg and during his deployment as a "Guardian Angel" led to his initial submission for the Sijan award by 30th SFS leadership and his subsequent wins at the squadron, group and wing level.

For those looking to build on their own leadership abilities, Coleman offered this advice.

"Be adaptable," he said. "Take a little bit of leadership from everyone you encounter, no matter if it's good or bad, and use those encounters to develop your own leadership style. For me, I try to inspire and motivate Airmen to the point that I don't have to push - they just want to follow. I base my success on what my Airmen are achieving, because my leadership is only as strong as the leadership I pass along to them."