9/15/2011 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Four Keesler nominees are competing at Air Education and Training Command for the Lance P. Sijan Air Force Leadership Award.
The award was created in 1981 to recognize individuals who have demonstrated the highest qualities of leadership in their jobs and in their lives. It has become one of the Air Force's most prestigious awards.
Sijan, an Air Force captain and fighter pilot, died while a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Prior to his capture, the Air Force Academy graduate and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient evaded the North Vietnamese for six weeks after being shot down in November 1967.
Keesler's nominees are:
Master Sgt. Mark Lorenzo Jr., nominee in the noncommissioned officer category, assumed his current rank July 1. He's a network defense instructor in the 333rd Training Squadron for nearly two years where he led an instructor staff that produced 1,800 hours of cyber training valued at $1.3 million and certified 240 communication warfighters. He executed a field survey and compiled data from 136 squadrons to propose a course deletion that saved Air Education and Training Command $807,000.
He won an Air Force Association Pitsenbarger Award and was named a distinguished NCO Academy graduate. He orchestrated a food distribution project for the Back Bay Mission, coached youth baseball and football, prepared food at Child Pride Day and served as a school test proctor.
Senior Master Sgt. Melanie Dolzanie, nominee in the senior NCO category, is the medical logistics flight Lorenzo Dolzanie Layton Bingaman chief in the 81st Medical Support Squadron. She's been assigned to Keesler for three years.
She was deployed for six months to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, where she was the squadron superintendent responsible for Iraq's only Level III trauma center. She managed a $187,000 weapon inventory and a $376,000 equipment inventory. She also executed six ceremonies for fallen warriors.
She deployed to Pacific Air Force headquarters for five weeks to serve as logistics subject matter expert in the wake of a catastrophic earthquake in Japan.
Capt. Darrin Layton, junior officer category, is an airfield operations officer course master instructor in the 334th TRS. Layton, who's been stationed at Keesler nearly two years, directly supervises more than 18 Air Force and international officer students daily.
He's credited with reshaping training for his career field by rewriting the career field education and training plan for 343 officers. He created a new contingency operations block for the course and created an airfield operations deployment manual for both officers and enlisted members. His unitwas recognized as AETC's top training squadron in 2010. He's an active school volunteer with local golf and swim team programs.
Maj. Richard Bingaman, senior officer category, is director of operations for the 333rd TRS. He arrived at Keesler 15 months ago to direct 173 multi-service military members, civilians and contractors and reloaded the Air Force with more than 6,5000 cyber-trained warriors.
He was instrumental in the standup of the $7.2 million, 115-day undergraduate cybertraining course. His management of a $627 electrical power increase project enabled course development to stay on schedule and allowed a four-month-early start. He coordinated integration of a 40-member flight and 4,000-student information technology fundamentals course into his squadron.
Bingaman was an assistant coach for a youth football team, educated unit spouses on the deployment process and volunteered during a local elementary school's Mardi Gras festivities.