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EPME instructor celebrates veterans

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Andrea Posey
  • I.G. Brown Training and Education Center

In 1918, November 11th was declared Armistice Day in honor of the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” that signaled the end of World War I. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day.

For the staff at the I.G. Brown Training & Education Center, remembering and celebrating veteran’s is an important task but it is especially important to U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Cory Siconio, NCO Academy instructor with the Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center at the I. G. Brown Training and Education Center here. As a self-proclaimed “history buff,” Siconio ensures those who came before us are remembered by incorporating history into his lessons.

“I make it no secret to my students or the staff here that I am incredibly interested in history,” he said. “Every day I use stories and examples from readings from historical books or documentaries in the classroom.”

During September, U.S. Air Force Col. Roxanne Toy, TEC commander, was invited to attend the Patriots Gala for the Medal of Honor Celebration event. This annual event focuses on reuniting recipients of the United States' highest military award for valor. Ordinary citizens who demonstrate extraordinary acts of heroism are also recognized during a Citizen Honors Awards ceremony.

After learning about Siconio’s passion for history, Toy felt like he was the perfect person to attend the event with her.

“I was honored to take Tech. Sgt. Siconio, as he has an amazingly deep appreciation for the medal's significance and deep personal gratitude for each honorees like I do,” she said.

Siconio described attending the event as surreal. All ranks of military branches and civilians came together to celebrate and honor both military and civilian achievements.

“As a huge historical enthusiast, I have read multiple books and watched documentaries on these heroic individuals,” he said. “To meet one in person would be comparable to a child meeting their favorite superhero.”

Siconio recalled that he did not know what to say at first when meeting his heroes. However, some words of wisdom from retired U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Earl D. Plumlee helped ease his nerves. Plumlee was awarded the Medal of Honor for his acts of gallantry and intrepidity above the and beyond the call of duty while engaging with the enemy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, on August 28, 2013.

“He said not to worry because he felt the same way before he got his medal,” said Siconio. “He said something very similar to Admiral William Frederick ‘Bull’ Jr., ‘There are no extraordinary men…just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.’ After that I settled down and did my best to meet and hear the stories of as many of the recipients as I could.”

Siconio felt that the Medal of Honor recipients embodied the quote by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

“Each one of these individuals continue to lead by attending these events, telling their stories and inspiring today’s generation of servicemembers like myself,” he said. “I feel it’s incredibly important to research these hero’s and the members they served with.”

Toy said she also felt the heavy significance of the honorees’ profound valor and heroism, not to mention the vast sacrifice, and dedication to service and country and was honored to share the experience with Siconio.

“We shared our thoughts of how it felt to be in a room with such giants,” she said. “This event was a moment that we will always remember as we were a part of a celebration of our nation’s past and present true heroes.”