Libya’s Volunteer “Calico Wing”

In the middle of what turned into a month of pop-up crises, the expeditionary wing formed to support Libya operations was a “magical” effort—comprising active duty, Air National Guardsmen, and Air Force Reserves—that came together overnight , Gen. Raymond Johns, commander of Air Mobility Command, said during Wednesday afternoon’s Four Star Forum at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. Much of AMC’s active duty capacity was already deployed, and the operation needed a general officer—one was found in Brig. Gen. Roy Uptegraff of the Pennsylvania ANG’s 171st Air Refueling Wing. Within a week, Uptegraff and the installation commander at Moron AB, Spain, had set up a operational expeditionary wing capable of fueling Libya combat missions. “Roy called it the ‘Calico Wing’ with all the different tail flashes,” Johns said. Uptegraff never asked how long he was going to be gone, Johns recalled, and he returned home 93 days later. “It was magical to see 19 units come together practically overnight,” Johns said.