A Legacy to be Proud of

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Patrick Boyle
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award has been presented annually since 1981, only awarded to the best and most capable leaders the Air Force offers.

Recently, Tech. Sgt. Anthony Dillier, 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) ground transportation noncommissioned officer in charge, was awarded the Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award at the Pacific Air Forces level for embodying the same resiliency and fighting spirit displayed by Sijan.

During the Vietnam War, Lance P. Sijan, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and F-4C Phantom pilot, demonstrated great honor and courage. Traversing through unfamiliar territory while suffering from shock and on the brink of starvation, Sijan evaded capture for over six weeks after being forced to eject from his aircraft. Even emaciated and weakened, Sijan still managed to overpower a guard and crawl into the dense jungle.

Although recaptured hours later with the prospect of torture and death looming over him, Sijan never broke and denied the enemy anything of value. He tried planning future escape attempts while battling pneumonia in filthy conditions. Sijan posthumously received the Medal of Honor after he died in the Hanoi Hilton prison. Today, his courage and fighting spirit live on through the award in his name, ensuring a proud line of Airmen will follow in his footsteps and lead with honor and courage as he did.

Dillier is one such Airman carrying on this proud heritage. His recognition for this prestigious accolade demonstrates the quality of his work and leadership.

“I was completely floored and honored that I got nominated for such an award,” said Dillier. “Lance Sijan has been someone I’ve admired since learning his story. He never quit through great adversity, and I want to apply those principles daily.”

Dillier’s achievements illustrate his resourcefulness and eagerness to bring about positive change. Recognizing that efficiency is paramount in military logistics, he worked to implement innovative strategies that would streamline ground transportation.

“We conducted massive contingency operations where we could go and retrieve our own ammo,” Dillier said. “We established a shipping lane called the Rhino Express, which drastically cut delivery times through a weekly run between Misawa and Yokota Air Bases. My team’s willingness to conduct ground transportation missions at such a large scale ensured the mission's success.”


Additionally, Diller has been working with the Japanese government to modernize the 35th LRS vehicle fleet to entirely Japanese vehicles, ensuring they have proper vehicles to perform even more runs, further amplifying mission projection.

“His critical thinking and approach to modernization have been instrumental in ensuring his section is postured to provide effective ground transportation support for Team Misawa,” expressed Chief Master Sgt. Jason McCollough, 35th LRS operations & compliance flight chief.

Dillier is a leader who prioritizes those under his supervision, understanding that an effective leader takes the time to provide guidance and advocate for their Airmen’s professional development. He believes that honesty is the best way to see his Airmen, and the shop as a whole, improve.

“Technical Sgt. Dillier is a compassionate leader who genuinely cares about the well-being and development of his team,” said McCollough.

These traits set Dillier apart, establishing a culture of respect in which Airmen can feel valued and supported. Through his efforts, efficiency has improved significantly and much has been accomplished. His leadership methods build an environment that addresses problems promptly to those under his supervision.

“I do quarterly feedback with my Airmen in which I sit them down and honestly ask them what is working and what is not,” said Dillier. “Ever since I first did this, they’ve known they can speak openly, and I’ll do my best to resolve any issue; it’s all about trust.”

Dillier strives to build up his Airmen in such a way that they’ll be well-equipped to overcome any challenge, just as his mentors did for him. He strives to set an example to his Airmen through his demeanor and determination when facing complex challenges.

“I had a mentor at Eielson Air Force Base, Mr. Dean Spaque,” said Dillier. “He always taught me that, especially when you’re a leader, you must perform at your best because people are looking at you to work hard for them. You can have bad days, but you still have to work.”

Just as Capt. Sijan left a lasting and profound impact that still echoes through the halls of history, Technical Sgt. Anthony Dillier has left a lasting impact on the 35th Fighter Wing and the Air Force. His commitment, tenacity and understanding toward those under him leave a proud legacy.

“Never give up. Never think an idea is too small. Find the right ways to formulate your ideas and communicate them up the chain,” said Dillier. “I only started to get traction in the worlds of logistics and leadership once I found out how to communicate my ideas. If you don’t like the culture, be the one to change the culture around you.”