Moving 95 soldiers and 20 tons of equipment on the ground in a deployed environment within 48 hours of tasking is just one of many reasons a Ramstein Airman recently received the prestigious Lance P. Sijan Air Force Leadership Award.
Capt. Michael Rellick, 86th Air Mobility Squadron Aerial Port Flight commander, received the award from Gen. Roger A. Brady, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, Dec. 17 at the NATO headquarters building on Ramstein.
The award, named after the first U.S. Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor, recognizes Airmen who have displayed selfless service and excellent leadership skills while assigned to an organization at the wing level and below.
“It is an outstanding achievement, and there’s no bigger or more prestigious award given to honor someone’s leadership,” General Brady said.
While Captain Rellick was honored to receive the award at the NATO level, he said it came as a shock since so many other Airmen are continually doing great things.
“I was completely surprised when they told me I won the award,” Captain Rellick said.
He noted one contributing factor that helped him become competitive for the award was the unique mission he was in charge of downrange. During that time he took part in aircraft drops in the Kandahar, Afghanistan, area for the first time ever using a joint staff.
He also facilitated an airlift for six Afghan National Army graduations and orchestrated 43 missions, including transporting 3,000 new Soldiers.
Even on his extra time, the captain displays his leadership and dedication as the officer in charge of the base honor guard. He also coordinated 18 of NATOs highest level events.
Captain Rellick said he could not have won the award without his co-workers making work fun and easy for him.
“I wouldn’t have been able to have won the award without the leadership of my senior leaders and mentors,” he said. “Also, I thank the superstars that work
underneath me and help make me shine.”
Captain Rellick made the decision to become a commissioned officer in the Air Force while in college.
“In my junior year of college I wanted job stability and a career that embraced the warrior ethos,” said the captain from Latrobe, Pa.
After graduating the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program from West Virginia University, he was assigned to Hurlburt Field Air Force Base, Fla. His career path also took him to Osan Air Base, Korea, before coming to NATO and becoming the operations support branch deputy chief, and then the assistant executive officer to the commander of the Component Command Air Headquarters.
The Lance P. Sijan award was first given in 1981. It was named in honor of the first U.S. Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. Captain Sijan was shot down over Vietnam Nov. 9, 1967, and evaded capture for 45 days despite severe injuries. He later died while in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp and was presented the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism.