MacDill officer wins Sijan Award

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Heather Fejerang
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Maj. Ryan Garlow, 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, here was named the Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award recipient in the senior officer category June 21.

“Major Garlow has played a vital role in the success of the wing during his three years here,” said Col. April Vogel, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander. “His dedication to MacDill has helped us thrive as a team.”

In 2016, the U.S. Thunderbirds awarded MacDill AirFest the Best Military Air Show award.  As the AirFest director, Garlow worked behind the scenes to bring an interactive air show experience to engage a crowd of 120,000 people. Garlow’s innovation and attention to detail was recognized by the International Council of Airshows and earned him the Gold Pinnacle Award for best military show.

He also led the 91st Air Refueling Squadron to the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Trophy for being the number one refueling squadron in the U.S. Air Force.  In 2016, Garlow and his team supported eight combatant commands to complete 1,800 missions and logged 10,000 flight hours. The squadron also fulfilled the largest Air Tasking Order in 10 years by flying more than 5,400 combat sorties, providing fuel to 40,000 receiver aircraft and supporting more than 5,000 air strikes.

Although this award recognizes him as an individual, Garlow recognizes he didn’t succeed on his own. 

“Receiving the Sijan Award feels like a team effort,” said Garlow. “I’m humbled by this achievement but I wouldn’t be here without my Airmen.”

The award named after Capt. Lance P. Sijan, a pilot who died while held captive for 45 days after he was shot down over Vietnam Nov. 9, 1967.  Sijan became the first U.S. Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor.  As an academy graduate, Garlow feels a connection to Sijan as an example to follow.

“For two years of my life as a cadet, I would wake up and leave Sijan Hall at the U.S. Air Force Academy and see his portrait,” said Garlow. “It was a daily reminder of the type of leader I’ve always strived to be.  Capt. Sijan was a selfless leader; he embodied the Air Force core values,” said Garlow. “I am honored to be a part of his legacy.”

Garlow, along with other category winners, will be honored at a presentation ceremony conducted by General David L. Goldfein, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.