Capt. Eric Boyes, 79th Fighter Squadron chief of wing weapons and tactics, and F-16 pilot, zips his flight suit up before he goes on a training mission, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 21, 2012. Boyes is the Air Combat Command recipient of the Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award for 2012 for his innovative training programs and combat-oriented tactical planning in support of Operation New Dawn, as well as combat operations in Iraq. This award is given to officers and enlisted members who exhibit the highest levels of initiative and leadership in their duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Daniel Blackwell/Released)
Capt. Eric Boyes (left), 79th Fighter Squadron chief of wing weapons and tactics, and F-16 pilot, and Capt. Jake Allen, 79th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot listen as they are briefed before their training mission at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 21, 2012. Boyes is the Air Combat Command recipient of the Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award for 2012 for his innovative training programs and combat-oriented tactical planning in support of Operation New Dawn, as well as combat operations in Iraq. This award is given to officers and enlisted members who exhibit the highest levels of initiative and leadership in their duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Daniel Blackwell/Released)
9/26/2012 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Another 20th Fighter Wing pilot has earned top ranking in Air Combat Command, this time taking the Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award for 2011.
Captain Eric Boyes, 20th Operations Support Squadron, wing chief of weapons and tactics, earned the privilege of representing ACC in the Air Force-wide competition.
In 1981, Air Force leaders decided to create a special award for outstanding leadership. The Sijan award honors a Vietnam War Air Force pilot who earned the Medal of Honor for bravery. Among Sijan's accomplishments, before dying from torture, were his efforts to encourage his fellow prisoners of war.
"I first heard about Sijan while I was a cadet in college ROTC," Boyes said. "I can't compare what I did to his accomplishments. But the Air Force thinks (leadership) is important, and so they named the award for him. I'm honored and humbled to win this award named for (Sijan)."
"As a weapons officer, I plan and implement training that best prepares our pilots for combat," Boyes explained. "As an instructor pilot, I develop young pilots into combat-ready Airmen." That, he confided, is one of his greatest pleasures, ". . . instructing and helping develop younger pilots, making them more productive. I think that's how I leave my 'mark,' - future Air Force leaders."
Boyes was among the 79th Fighter Squadron pilots who had the history-making role of being the last combat squadron to leave Iraq. His duties in Iraq, he said, were among his most significant accomplishments, as he had a leading role in planning and executing the last few months of Operation New Dawn. "It was smooth and incident free," he commented.
The captain has logged more than 1,470 hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, including 378 combat hours. That experience found release in what he considers his other major accomplishment: developing new tactics for protecting naval assets in the Arabian Gulf.
The citation for his award reads, "He established a theater-focused training plan for F-16CJs within the United States Central Command's Area of Responsibility including the most robust maritime air support training plan in squadron history."
"It was a high priority for the U.S. Air Forces Central commander and for the U.S. Navy," he said. "There were many new lessons and procedures for us to work through." Cooperation with the Navy isn't over for Boyes, as the captain is attending a conference next month to formalize and pass on to others lessons and tactics learned in the Middle East.
Boyes, who joined the wing in January 2011, is a 2003 computer science graduate of Stanford University who earned his commission through the Air Force ROTC.
Off duty, the captain's passions are physical fitness and travel. He said he's visited more than 20 countries - Greenland and Iceland were his latest - and is looking forward to an upcoming Europe trip.