News>Feature - Outstanding LRS Airman wins Sijan Award
Senior Master Sgt. Frank Graziano, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent of deployment and distribution and a native of Fowler, Ohio, supervises the loading of equipment on to a Russian Antonov An-124 Ruslan at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 30, 2012. Airmen from 20th LRS loaded three mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, two satellite communication devices and additional supplies on to the plane for 8th Army in the Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal Jeffers/Released)
Senior Master Sgt. Frank Graziano, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent of deployment and distribution and a native of Fowler, Ohio, teaches a class called “How Senior NCOs are Promoted to Senior Master Sergeant and Chief Master Sergeant” at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 17, 2012. Graziano showed the participants an official video about the process of how people are promoted and explained what the promotion board was. He then gave tips like checking your records to make sure they are accurate and creating a positive reputation with your peers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal Jeffers/Released)
Senior Master Sgt. Frank Graziano, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent of deployment and distribution and a native of Fowler, Ohio, teaches a class titled “How Senior NCOs are Promoted to Senior Master Sergeant and Chief Master Sergeant” at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 17, 2012. Graziano showed the participants an official video about the process of how people are promoted and explained what the promotion board was. He then gave tips like checking your records to make sure they are accurate and creating a positive reputation with your peers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal Jeffers/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Krystal Jeffers
20th Fighter Wing / Public Affiars
8/21/2012 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Senior Master Sgt. Frank Graziano, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent of deployment and distribution, was awarded the Sijan Award at the Air Combat Command level.
In 1967 an F-4C Phantom crashed over North Vietnam and the pilot ejected from the plane into enemy territory. A search-and-rescue crew tried sending someone to assist the pilot, Capt. Lance Sijan, but he refused to put another person in danger. Instead a penetrator was lowered, but enemy fire forced the rescue team to retreat.
For 45 days with little food and water the captain avoided capture. When he was finally captured he escaped despite possessing a broken leg, a skull fracture and a mangled right hand. After recapture, Sijan continued attempting to escape and refused to tell his captors any information other than his name even when tortured.
Sijan died after many months of ill treatment in 1968. A fellow prisoner of war, inspired by his spirit, heroism and determination, nominated him for the Medal of Honor which was awarded to him in 1976, according to the U.S. Air Force official website.
In honor of his memory and leadership abilities, the Air Force created the Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award in 1981 to recognize outstanding Airmen possessing similar qualities.
"In my opinion, the award symbolizes leadership at its highest level," the native of Fowler, Ohio, said.
"There are few folks in this world who are natural leaders and part of the allure of Senior Master Sgt. Graziano is his leadership style," said 1st Lt. Sara Ramirez, 20th LRS installation deployment officer. "He leads from the front and people want to be like him. I think that is why he won the Lance Sijan Award."
"(Being given this award) is very humbling," he said. "I am just doing my job. I was raised in the military to do the best that I can do and always push forward."
His 18 years of experience in the military includes being stationed at; Ellsworth AFB, S.D., Kunsan AB, South Korea, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England; Langley AFB, Va., Buckley AFB, Colo., and Kadena AB, Japan along with being stationed here. He has also been deployed to Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Hungary, Qatar, and Iraq.
By being assigned to locations all over the world, a person is able to see the differences in missions and gain a grasp of the big picture which helped him as a leader, Graziano said.
Along with being assigned in various places across the globe, Graziano also served as a 1st sergeant.
"I care about people," Graziano said. "I always look at people as family because you would do anything for them at any time. As a 1st sergeant you treat people the best that you can so becoming a 1st sergeant was a natural route for me."
According to Graziano, that experience taught him many important things like the potential Airmen have.
"There are so many people out there with hidden talents or who are leaders that are waiting to jump out," he said. "If you give them the opportunity, they will just shine. They just need a person to back them up. I realized that at my level I was able to be that back up and support which helped over and over again to bring people out of their shell and shine like no other. It was a very humbling experience to watch."
Along with volunteering to be a 1st sergeant, he also volunteered to teach classes on bullet writing for enlisted performance reports, awards packages, and the process for being promoted to senior master sergeant and chief master sergeant.
"He is always involved with first term Airmen (new Airmen at their first assignment), Top 3 and squadron stuff like the booster clubs," Ramirez said.
Graziano is also the chapter president of the Air Force Sergeants Association here. He has volunteered 81 hours at SPCA, an animal shelter, and cared for 96 pets. In addition, he spent 21 hours helping at the Harvest Hope Food Bank. When he goes on leave he does additional volunteer work including going to the schools in his area to speak with children.
"I look for every possible way to give back to the community," Graziano said. "Giving back is the right thing to do. I had mentors above me who groomed me into the Airman I am today and I believe in 'pay it forward' where someone did something for you so in turn you have to do it for somebody else. My hope and goal is that other people do that for the next generation so it just keeps on going in a cycle."
A mentor who helped Graziano to "become the man I am today" was Chief Master Sgt. Vernado.
"He sat me down when I was an airman 1st class and told me 'this is what you need to do.'" Graziano said. "He told (the other Airmen and I) that this was how it was supposed to be, and if we didn't do it he would track us down because his Air Force was going to be better after he retired."
According to Graziano, the other mentors who influenced him were the people he came in contact with, worked with and taught.
"They all teach me something and they all have had an impact on who I am today," he said.
Some of the people who taught him quite a bit were the students he taught while he was a professional military education instructor at the NCO academy.
"They enhanced my teaching abilities by stuff they would say or opinions they had," Graziano said. "I loved being a PME instructor and watching the light bulb go off when someone finally understands."
"You can tell he really cares for his Airmen," said Ramirez. "He wants people to be successful and truly cares about people not only professionally, but also personally. It doesn't matter who it is, whether it is the lowest ranking Airmen or the highest ranking person in the squadron, he stops what he is doing to make sure people are knowledgeable and good to go."
"He will always go the extra mile. He will always take time out of his day to recognize someone who needs something and take care of that need," she continued.