Sijan, Lance Peter, Capt

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1967-1968, POW North Vietnam
Service Years
1965 - 1968

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Capt Nivlem Sivad to remember Sijan, Lance Peter (AWOL 01), Capt.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Last Address
Da Nang AB, South Vietnam
Hanoi, North Vietnam

Casualty Date
Jan 22, 1968
Hostile, Died while Captured
Illness, Disease
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Arlington Park Cemetery - Greenfield, Wisconsin
Wall/Plot Coordinates
29E 062

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Association of Graduates USAFAVietnam Veterans Memorial
  1965, Association of Graduates USAFA
  2012, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

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Aviator (Basic)

 Unit Assignments
3640th Pilot Training Squadron479th Tactical Training Wing480th Tactical Fighter Squadron366th Tactical Fighter Wing - Gunfighters
Prisoner Of War (POW)
  1965-1966, 0006, 3640th Pilot Training Squadron
  1966-1967, 1115Z, 479th Tactical Training Wing
  1967-1967, 1115R, 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron
  1967-1967, 366th Tactical Fighter Wing - Gunfighters
  1967-1968, POW North Vietnam
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1967-1967 Various Air Missions over North Vietnam5
 Colleges Attended 
United States Air Force Academy
  1961-1965, United States Air Force Academy3
 My Aircraft/Missiles
F-4 Phantom  
  1966-1967, F-4 Phantom
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

On his 52nd mission, the night of November 9, 1967, Sijan and pilot Lt. Col. John Armstrong were tasked with a bombing mission over North Vietnam (call-sign AWOL 01). As they rolled in on their target to release their ordnance, their F-4C was engulfed in a ball of fire, due to the six bomb's fairly new fuses which malfunctioned causing a premature detonation soon after the release point. The jet then entered a banking climb before plunging into the jungle below. Sijan ejected from his aircraft, and a search-and-rescue crew, radioed to Sijan that they were attempting a rescue.

After almost a whole day of locating his position and softening up air defences in the area, the SAR forces were finally able to get one of the big Jolly Green Giant helicopters roughly over Sijan's position (during this operation over 20 aircraft were disabled, due to the anti-aircraft fire, and had to return to base. Another aircraft was also shot down, though its pilot was rescued with ease by one of the Jolly Greens on station). Sijan, refusing to put another person in danger, insisted that he crawl in to the jungle and have a penetrator lowered by the helicopter, instead of sending down the helicopter's Para-Jumpers to carry him. However, he couldn't reach the penetrator quick enough, and after 33 minutes the rescue team, which faced enemy fire and the growing darkness, had to return to base.

Although search efforts continued the next day, they were called off when no further radio contact was made with Sijan, due to his unconscious state, and he was placed in MIA status.

With a fractured skull, mangled right hand, compound fracture of the left leg, without food and little water, and no survival kit, Sijan evaded enemy forces for 46 days (all the time "crawling" or rather scooting on his back down the rocky limestone karst on which he landed, causing even more wounds) before being captured on December 25, 1967. Although emaciated and in poor shape, he managed to overpower his guard and escape, but was recaptured within hours. He was transported to a holding compound in Vinh, North Vietnam, where he was put into the care of other American POWs, Bob Craner and Guy Gruters. Here, in even more pain from his wounds, he suffered beatings from his captors, but never gave any information other than what the Geneva Convention allowed. After further travel to Hanoi, Sijan suffering from exhaustion, malnutrition, and disease, died in captivity on January 22, 1968.


For his bravery, Captain Sijan was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest military decoration. On March 4, 1976, President Gerald Ford presented Captain Sijan's Medal of Honor to his parents, Sylvester and Jane.

Medal of Honor

Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Captain Lance Peter Sijan, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron, as a Prisoner of War being held in Laos and North Vietnam.

On 9 November 1967, while on a flight over North Vietnam, Captain 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, Captain 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. Captain 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.

Captain 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 United States Armed Forces.

General Orders: Department of the Air Force, Special Order GB-181, March 23, 1976
Action Date: 9-Nov-67
Service: Air Force
Rank: Captain
Company: 366th Tactical Fighter Wing
Regiment: 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron
 Division: DaNang AFB

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