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Former Vietnam POW mentors Team Shaw

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Lee Ellis, former Vietnam War pilot and prisoner of war, shares his experiences with Airmen at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 6, 2018.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Lee Ellis, former Vietnam War pilot and prisoner of war, shares his experiences with Airmen at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 6, 2018. Ellis spoke about his time at the Hanoi Hilton and the values that helped him return home with honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

Team Shaw members listen as retired U.S. Air Force Col. Lee Ellis shares his story and leadership skills at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 6, 2018.

Team Shaw members listen as retired U.S. Air Force Col. Lee Ellis shares his story and leadership skills at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 6, 2018. Airmen from around base gathered to hear Ellis’ story and lessons on leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

Team Shaw members gather for a brief from retired U.S. Air Force Col. Lee Ellis, Vietnam War pilot and former prisoner of war, at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 6, 2018.

Team Shaw members gather for a brief from retired U.S. Air Force Col. Lee Ellis, Vietnam War pilot and former prisoner of war, at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 6, 2018. Ellis spoke about leadership and focusing on taking care of people and accomplishing the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

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.