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Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career

The Ready For Takeoff podcast will help you transform your aviation passion into an aviation career. Every week we bring you instruction and interviews with top aviators in their field who reveal their flight path to an exciting career in the skies.
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Now displaying: Page 1
Mar 25, 2022

Medal of Honor Citation:

While on a flight over North Vietnam, Capt. Sijan ejected from his disabled aircraft and successfully evaded capture for more than six weeks. During this time, he was seriously injured and suffered from shock and extreme weight loss due to lack of food. After being captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, Capt. Sijan was taken to a holding point for subsequent transfer to a prisoner-of-war camp. In his emaciated and crippled condition, he overpowered one of his guards and crawled into the jungle, only to be recaptured after several hours. He was then transferred to another prison camp where he was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated at length. During interrogation, he was severely tortured; however, he did not divulge any information to his captors. Capt. Sijan lapsed into delirium and was placed in the care of another prisoner. During his intermittent periods of consciousness until his death, he never complained of his physical condition and, on several occasions, spoke of future escape attempts. Capt. Sijan's extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.

From Into the Mouth of the Cat: The Story of Lance Sijan, Hero of Vietnam:

On the night of November 9, 1967, Sijan was ejected from his crippled fighter-bomber over the steep mountains of Laos. Although critically injured and virtually without supplies, he evaded capture in savage terrain for six weeks. Finally caught and placed in a holding camp, he overpowered his guards and escaped, only to be captured again. He resisted his interrogators to the end, and he died two weeks later in Hanoi. His courage was an inspiration to other American prisoners of war, and he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

From Leading With Honor:

Chapter 9 page 117-118

Before my deployment to Southeast Asia, Air Force 1st Lt Lance

Sijan and I had been dormmates and golfing buddies. At Son Tay camp,

I learned that his plane had gone down one day after mine. Badly

injured, he survived in the jungles of Laos for 46 days before being

captured. His remarkable story was not a surprise. Throughout our

training he was always keen about his professional development. Lance

stood out in survival school because he appeared to be the most highly

motivated learner, both in the classroom and on the mountain trek.

As Ron Mastin (1st Lt USAF) flashed Lance’s painful story across the

camp to our building, I put the pieces together. I remembered our first

winter of captivity, when my cellmates and I had listened helplessly

as someone in a cell down the hall deliriously cried out for help. I summoned

the officer in charge, and a few minutes later Fat in the Fire

opened the peephole in our door. “Please, will you help this man?”

I pleaded. With a serious look on his face he replied, “He has bad head

injury. Been in jungle too long. Has one foot in grave.” He slammed the

peephole shut and left.

Of course, in the isolated cells of Thunderbird, we had no way of

knowing who was dying. Two years later, I realized that we had been

audible witnesses to Lance’s last valiant struggle to survive. After the

war, we learned more details of Lance’s heroic actions to evade, escape,

and endure. His courageous efforts to resist, survive, escape, and return

with honor were so notable that he was awarded the Congressional

Medal of Honor (posthumously). One of the Air Force’s most prestigious

annual awards for leadership is named the Sijan Award.

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