NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Senior Master Sgt. David DeLoney III, 820th RED HORSE readiness and emergency management superintendent, won the 2013 Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award earlier this month.
The Lance P. Sijan AF Leadership Award was created in 1981 to recognize individuals who demonstrated the highest qualities of leadership in their duties and personal lives.
Prior to his capture, the U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient, Sijan evaded the North Vietnamese for six weeks after being shot down in November 1967. During this time, he was seriously injured and suffered from shock and extreme weight loss due to lack of food. He died while a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
DeLoney, the senior enlisted category winner, managed infrastructure operations consisting of 156 Airman who sustained a $5 billion plant being labeled as “Best Water and Fuels Systems Maintenance Flight in the Air Force.” As a ground forces commander supporting contingency operations, he conducted 75 tactical convoy missions ensuring safe transportation of senior leaders to develop a framework for the successful NATO training mission in Afghanistan. Additionally, he directed the emergency management for six wings and prepared 16,000 base personnel for disasters, his program was recognized by Air Combat Command as “Best Program.” He was also featured as a goodwill ambassador in the Three Square Food Bank magazine.
“Being nominated for any type of recognition is an honor in itself,” DeLoney said. “My family, supervisors, wingmen, coworkers and mentors have all played a very large part in my accomplishments. Earlier in my career, I learned that it is more important to be a part of the best team instead of trying to be the best one on the team so every decision I have made and will continue to make is based off of that theory.”
Not knowing he had earned the award while deployed to Southwest Asia, DeLoney had heard the word from his fellow wingman back at Nellis AFB.
“At this point since I am deployed, my commander from Nellis AFB called me in the middle of the night here to personally congratulate me. When I got the call I immediately thought there was a family emergency,” DeLoney said. “He quickly calmed me down but it was still breathtaking. Later, the next morning, my group commander at my deployed location came to my office with the biggest entourage of the highest ranking officials from the organization to shake my hand, coin me and personally congratulate me.”
When DeLoney was selected for the award, he didn’t think of only himself, but the others before him that have done right.
“What I do with this award is the most important thing. This award is really not for me,” DeLoney said. “This award is for all of those who do what is right, who are inspired to improve processes and save Air Force dollars. This award is for my leaders and my Airmen who support me. I understand that I am representing a large number of Senior NCOs. My actions will continue to reflect that of a deserving recipient.”
Recipients of the Sijan Award are authorized to wear the Air Force Recognition Ribbon.