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KADENA AIR BASE — A Kadena commander is one of four airmen and the only in the Pacific recognized with the 2006 Lance P. Sijan Air Force Leadership Award.

Lt. Col. Eric Axelbank was selected in the senior officer category for commanding the Kadena-based 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron, the largest such squadron in the Air Force, according to a news release.

The Sijan award recognizes airmen who show professional and personal leadership abilities while assigned to organizations at the wing level or below.

The squadron — 550 airmen and 300 local residents whose performance Axelbank credited for his award — manages the supply, maintenance and logistics needs for everyone on the air base. Refueling, purchasing, supply and equipment storage, contingency planning — they do it all, said Axelbank, a 16-year veteran.

The award was named for Capt. Lance P. Sijan, the first Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. Sijan was captured in November 1967 after his plane crashed in North Vietnam. He died in a POW camp in January 1968.

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