Former Vietnam POW mentors Team Shaw
By Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 09, 2018
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Retired Col. Lee Ellis, former Vietnam fighter pilot and prisoner of war, spoke to Team Shaw members in Hangar 1200, April 6.
Ellis flew the F-4 Phantom and completed 67 combat missions before ejecting on his 68th and spending almost five years in captivity. During his speech, the pilot spoke about his experiences as well as the lessons and values that helped him persevere and return home with honor.
“Courage is essential,” said Ellis. “Every one of us has to have courage. We can’t do any of the stuff before us without courage because we all have doubts and fears. We have to stay positive. Being in a POW camp, we personally had to deal with that.”
During his speech, Ellis also spoke about 20th Fighter Wing priorities of mission, Airmen and family, describing a good leader as someone who takes care of both the mission and their people. Wing values such as courage and competence were both attributed as traits of successful individuals in his POW camp, the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam.
“I feel that this is going to impact my leadership in more ways than I can imagine,” said 2nd Lt. Jonathan Ruddiman, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels management flight commander. “I feel I’ve gained better insight of how effective leadership happens in the workplace and especially in austere environments such as what Col. Ellis went through in that POW camp.”
Many Team Shaw members had the opportunity to attend the event and gain wisdom from past experiences of the Vietnam War. Ellis encouraged individuals to cultivate values and leadership skills within themselves and to help the next generation of Airmen.