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Outstanding ISR Airmen nominated for top leadership award

By 25th Air Force Public Affairs | 25th Air Force | Oct. 19, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —

Four outstanding 25th Air Force Airmen have made the cut to be considered for the 2017 Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award.

The award is named in honor of the late Capt. Lance P. Sijan, an Air Force Academy graduate and combat pilot, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageousness while evading capture by the North Vietnamese, and during his subsequent captivity as a prisoner of war.

The award recognizes the accomplishments of officers and enlisted leaders who demonstrate the highest qualities of leadership in the performance of their duties and in their lives.

The categories the four 25th AF Airmen were nominated in were senior officer, junior officer, senior enlisted and junior enlisted, respectively.

Senior officer category: Maj. Michael, 691st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing.

“In the past year, Mike has both deployed for over six months supporting real-world operations against ISIS and has tirelessly worked at home-station as our group director of operations helping to advance and revolutionize the means by which SIGINT (signals intelligence) supports the air component,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Cooper, 691st ISRG vice commander. "With all that, he still sets aside time to devote to his family and community, coaching soccer and supporting numerous programs in his church. I can think of no one more deserving of being the 25th Air Force’s nominee for the Sijan Award. He is in great company and has earned his spot in this distinguished group.”

Michael is currently serving as the group director of operations for the 691th ISRG at Fort Meade, Md. He oversees operations for three squadrons and over 900 Airmen. In that capacity, Cooper said Michael has revolutionized the means by which SIGINT support is provided for Air Force bomber missions in support of six Combatant Commands.

“He also transformed National-Tactical Integration’s support to the Combined Forces Air Component Commander, significantly advancing the Combined Air Operations Center’s ability to provide SIGINT for Operation Inherent Resolve,” Cooper said.

Additionally, while Michael was deployed he directed intelligence support for over 50 named operations encompassing over 5,000 airstrikes, Cooper said. “He supported 27 ISR platforms executing over 85,000 hours of coverage enabling action on 350 targets and leading to over 17,000 enemies engaged.”

Junior officer category: Capt. Josef N. Kallevig, 9th Civil Engineering Squadron, 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, Calif.

Maj. Marc Johansen, Operations Flight commander, 9th CES, said Kallevig is an exemplary officer and Wingman.

“Most notably, Capt. Kallevig stepped up to be the squadron commander for a month while the assigned commander was out for a medical emergency,” Johansen said. “Then, he led the 244-person Operations Flight, the largest flight in the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, for four months while I was deployed.”

Kallevig also lead Airmen through several major life changes.

“He kept the squadron steady during the turmoil of leadership change and guiding them through record flooding on- and off-base,” Johansen said. “Additionally, he tackled our Wing Commander's vision to modernize Beale's facilities, developing a long-range plan to upgrade infrastructure to support cutting-edge high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance into the 21st century.”

Johansen said Kallevig is an exemplary leader and motivator, driving his team to generate innovations, create new processes to sustain base infrastructure and earn three "Best Practices" from the Air Force Civil Engineer Center,” Johansen said.

Senior enlisted category: Master Sgt. Alison, 29th Intelligence Squadron, 70th ISRW.

Alison, who has since moved to a new duty location, was the senior enlisted leader for over 140 joint military members. She created a flight Leadership course that developed 70 ISRW flight commanders and flight chiefs into stronger leaders and advocates for their flights, said Senior Master Sgt. Rebecca Bench, senior enlisted leader. The course was subsequently adopted by the NAF.

The Airman not only paved the way for future squadron leaders and managed a counterterrorism mission which halted an attack on a U.S. embassy, she also published a Mock Force Distribution Panel to educate all Airmen on the promotion recommendation process, Bench said.

“(Alison) is a visible leader who is constantly working to help improve our Air Force through continual mentorship,” she said.

Alison was overwhelmed by the nomination and appreciates the recognition, something ISR Airmen rarely see.

“It is truly an honor to be nominated by 25th Air Force for the Lance P. Sijan Award,” Alison said. “I was humbled by the nomination from my supervisor and squadron, and continue to be thankful for each level of nomination along the way.”

Junior enlisted category: Tech. Sgt. Jolene, 22nd Intelligence Squadron, 70th ISRW, who was recently promoted to master sergeant.

Jolene’s selection can be attributed to her superb leadership abilities and community involvement.

“(Jolene) has proven her leadership abilities in all aspects of her life, from her role in the work center to her extensive community involvement,” said Lt. Col. Dan Newton, commander, 22nd IS. “As the (National Security Agency) deputy division chief, she led 50 Joint service members at three NSA sites supporting global special operations. She leads by example and truly cares about her Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines.”

Newton said this outstanding Airman was also a phenomenal volunteer while assigned to the 22nd IS.

“In addition to her normal duties, she volunteered as a Master Resiliency Trainer where she led squadron and wing Comprehensive Airman Fitness events,” he said. “Her impact on the squadron is evidenced in the number of individual, team and unit awards that we have earned over the past year.”

Outside of work, Jolene is a highly involved community leader, Newton said.

“As the Parent Teacher Student Association secretary, she led seven events, raised $6,000 for the organization and awarded $3,000 in scholarships to aspiring college students. She also chaired the Intelligence Community’s Women’s Leadership Symposium where she mentored 220 women, developing their leadership skills,” he said. “Furthermore, she chaired the National Women Veterans Program, the NSA Women’s Resource Group and established the Military Women in STEM Focus Group.”

Newton said Jolene is a premier leader, committed to the mission and, most importantly, to people. 

(Editor's note: Last names were not used for security reasons.)