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Total Force supports Odyssey Dawn

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman David Dobrydney
  • 313th Air Expeditionary Wing
Aircraft and Airmen from more than 10 bases across the Air Force have united to form the 313th Air Expeditionary Wing here.

The wing formed in 72 hours after the start of Operation Odyssey Dawn, a mission to enforce a no-fly zone put in place to protect the civilian population of Libya.

The first unit to arrive was the 171st Air Refueling Wing, an Air National Guard unit from Pittsburgh, Pa. Since then, they have been joined by fellow guard and reserve units, with everyone mingling together.

"I've helped work on other units' planes more than my own," said Staff Sgt. Reed Mitchell, 171st ARW crew chief, "with recent deployments to [Southeast Asia], a lot of these crews are old friends."

Sergeant Mitchell said that serving together with reservists and active-duty Airmen can lead to better working habits.

"The Guard has a certain way of doing things, and the active-duty Air Force has a certain way of doing things," he said.

"They're both within [regulations], so we combine our experiences and it works out."

While the Pittsburgh Airmen were among the first here to stand up the 313th AEW, an Air Force Reserve unit from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N. C., was ready to receive them.

Hailing from the 916th Air Refueling Wing, the reservists were executing another mission here when Operation Odyssey Dawn kicked off.

"Our mission changed to get these guys in and bedded down," said Master Sgt. William Buckley, 916th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flight chief.

The North Carolina Airmen received the incoming aircraft and maintained them until the 313th AEW stood up. Now the 916th Airmen are combined into the expeditionary wing.

"You can't tell us apart," said Sergeant Buckley about the distinctions between the sections of the service. "We're proud to be able to do any mission the Air Force needs us to do."

Besides ANG and AFR members, active-duty Airmen have also participated, in particular those who were already stationed here before Odyssey Dawn began.

"The 100 Airmen here rallied to get this wing stood up," said Master Sgt. Robert Lombardi, first sergeant.

"They found resources they didn't realize they had, working in areas they might not be familiar with. They worked their hearts out and with a great attitude," he said.

Finally, the host nation provided valuable assistance in getting Airmen billeted, keeping them fed, and helping out on the flightline.

"I cannot say enough good things about our local national employees," said Brig. Gen. Roy Uptegraff, 313th AEW commander.

"Their hard work allows our Airmen, active, guard and reserve, to concentrate on accomplishing their mission."