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72nd ABW Defender nominated for 2020 Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award

Airman with arms crossed standing in front of his desk.

Capt. Brandon Casso, 72nd Security Forces Squadron director of operations, poses for a photo at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., October 1, 2020. Capt. Casso was recently recognized by Air Force Materiel Command for his exemplary leadership and performance, earning the AFMC nomination for the Lance P. Sijan award in the company grade officer category. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Danny Rangel)


A 72nd Security Forces Squadron officer was recently recognized by Air Force Materiel Command for the highest qualities of leadership and performance.

Capt. Brandon Casso, 72nd SFS director of operations, earned the AFMC nomination for the Lance P. Sijan award in the company grade officer category and will now compete at the Air Force level.

Casso has been assigned to the 72nd SFS since August 2019 where he oversees more than 400 Airmen in defense of the installation.

“It’s an honor to be recognized and nominated for this award,” Casso said. “I’m privileged to lead an excellent team of fellow Defenders who work together every day to get the mission done and secure the base. On the gates, on patrol, they motivate me to come into work every day with a mission-focused attitude. This award is a direct reflection of the quality of our team.”

Lt. Col. Gerald Patton, 72nd SFS commander, recognized Casso as an officer who has gone above and beyond in his service and commitment to others.

"Captain Casso is an outstanding officer who represents the elements of a true servant leader,” Patton said. “He is an inspiration to his peers and subordinates and has played a vital role in the success of our mission. The Lance P. Sijan award is meant to honor the highest qualities of leadership and Captain Casso's tireless focus on ensuring mission success is emblematic of this award and worthy of recognition. I can think of no one more deserving of this nomination."

During the award nomination period, the captain deployed to Iraq and led force protection measures for nine geographically separated units and 500 coalition force members. He also advised wing leaders on critical security measures, helping to ensure the safety of Airmen in a deployed location.

“The Airmen are the reason I come into work every day,” said Casso. “The fact that I get to wear the same shield, the same uniform and the same beret is a distinct privilege.”

From the beginning of his Air Force career, Casso has taken advantage of the immediate and expansive leadership opportunities offered to security forces officers.

“This career field thrusts officers into leadership right from the start,” he said. “I think part of the reason I received this nomination is because of the opportunities I’ve been given to lead Airmen, which have allowed me to grow as an officer. It’s been an honor to prepare my Airmen for the daily challenges they meet as Defenders both at home and while deployed overseas.”

Established in 1981, the Lance P. Sijan award is meant to recognize individuals demonstrating the highest qualities of leadership in their personal and professional lives and is among the most prestigious Air Force awards. The award is named in honor of Capt. Lance Sijan for his courage in evading enemy capture during the Vietnam War and for his subsequent time in captivity as a prisoner of war.