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University Medical Center Physician Receives Prestigious Air Force Award

Col. Charles W. Chappuis (center) receives the Sijan Leadership Award at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. Col. Chappuis is flanked by Col. Roy Qualls, Commander of the 159th Fighter Wing (left), and Chief Master Sergeant Randi Volpi, 159th Fighter Wing Command Chief.

New Orleans - One of the Air Force's most prestigious awards, the Lance P. Sijan Air Force Leadership Award, was presented to Col. Charles W. Chappuis, the state air surgeon and former medical group commander for the 159th Fighter Wing, for demonstrating the highest qualities of leadership in the performance of his duties and in the conduct of his life.

Col. Chappuis is Chief of Surgery at University Medical Center in Lafayette, La.

The award was presented at the 159th Fighter Wing Awards Banquet, December 4, held at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

Among Chappuis' numerous accomplishments is his outstanding service as the commander of the 447th Expeditionary Medical Squadron at Camp Sather, Iraq. Chappuis, from Rayne, La., supervised 30 personnel and was responsible for 3 million dollars in assets. He provided for more than 3,000 patient visits and served as a faculty member and lecturer for the Iraqi Air Force's first-ever fixed wing aero-medical evacuation course

"It's a very humbling award for me. In my mind this is not an award that I won; this is an award that all of the Airmen and Soldiers who I've had the good fortune to work for through my military career…all of them own a piece of this award, because I work for them – that's the way I operate," said Col. Chappuis.

The Sijan Leadership award was named in honor of the first U.S. Air Force Academy graduate to receive the Medal of Honor. Capt. Sijan was shot down over Vietnam, Nov. 9, 1967, and evaded capture for 45 days despite severe injuries. He later died while in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp and was presented the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism.