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A Meritorious Legacy

Capt. Amy Concanour and retired Capt. Tom Plantenberg, present the Lance Sijan Award to Ceylon Gruenstern at the Milwaukee Yacht Club May 15, 2015 for his service during World War II. Gruenstern is the great-grandfather of Senior Airman Melissa Mussa, 128th Air Refueling Wing civil engineering squadron.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Matthew Wunderlin/Released)

Capt. Amy Concanour and retired Capt. Tom Plantenberg, present the Lance Sijan Award to Ceylon Gruenstern at the Milwaukee Yacht Club May 15, 2015 for his service during World War II. Gruenstern is the great-grandfather of Senior Airman Melissa Mussa, 128th Air Refueling Wing civil engineering squadron. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Matthew Wunderlin/Released)

MILWAUKEE -- The great-grandfather of Senior Airman Melissa Mussa, 128th Air Refueling Wing civil engineering squadron, was honored with the Lance Sijan Award Thursday at Milwaukee Yacht Club for his service during World War II.

Since fewer than 60 people have received this honor it is expected that Mussa would be in attendance, however, she was busy earning esteem in Airman Leadership School at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tenn. Only 14 spots are available each year for Wisconsin Air National Guard members, so acceptance into the program indicates that she has set herself apart from her peers.

"Senior Airman Mussa is carrying on the legacy of her great-grandfather by developing leadership abilities that will enable her to be an effective front-line supervisor," said Chief Master Sgt. Connie Bacik, Command Chief, 128th Air Refueling Wing. "Her great-grandfather distinguished himself by completing 35 missions over Europe during World War II; she is beginning to follow in his footsteps by being selected to this school from a highly competitive field."

Ceylon H. Gruenstern flew in the B-17 as a bombardier with the U.S. Army Air Corps. During over two years of service he survived enemy flak attacks, antiaircraft fire, freezing cold, and the loss of friends in his squadron. He left the service Feb. 24, 1945 earning four Air Medals.

"I want to thank Senior Airman Mussa for her service and for nominating me for this award. I know she would be here if she could," said Gruenstern. "I want to dedicate this award to my crew that I served with."

Two other individuals were honored with the Lance Sijan Award for their distinctive service in World War II, Eugene Schulz and Robert J. Donovan.

Each year the Milwaukee Armed Services Committee honors one or more veterans who have served with honor and distinction by presenting them the Lance Sijan Award.  Sijan, a Milwaukee native, earned the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism during the Vietnam War. Each honoree has a different story, but all epitomize the selfless dedication to our nation that distinguishes American veterans.