Calico Crew flies 1,000th sortie

Members of the 313th Air Expeditionary Wing gather for a photo following the 1,000th sortie flown in support of Operation Unified Protector, a NATO-led mission enhancing a no fly zone established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 over Libya.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Dicie
Hritz/Released)

Members of the 313th Air Expeditionary Wing gather for a photo following the 1,000th sortie flown in support of Operation Unified Protector, a NATO-led mission enhancing a no fly zone established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 over Libya. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Dicie Hritz/Released)

WESTERN EUROPE -- A crew assigned the 313th Air Expeditionary Wing flew the unit's 1,000th sortie May 22 supporting Operation Unified Protector.

The 313th AEW was stood up March 19 to support Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn and was operational within 72 hours of the operation's start. The mission transitioned to OUP March 31.

OUP is a NATO-led mission to enforce a no-fly zone over the nation of Libya and provide humanitarian assistance to the Libyan civilian population, in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.

The blended aircrew was a true tribute to the "Calico Wing," a mix of aircrew members made up of both active duty and guard members. Aircraft commander Capt. Jeff Lascurain, an active duty officer from MacDill AFB, 1st Lt. Spencer Liedl, an active duty officer from Scott AFB, Ill., and Tech. Sgt. Christopher Slater from the Illinois Air National Guard flew the 1,000th sortie for the operations supporting OUP.

The air refueling sortie lasted 9.5 hours from takeoff until landing back at the base in Western Europe. The aircrew was flying the KC-135 from the Maine ANG, which makes this sortie a complete Calico mission.

"The mission was a true testament of total force integration; it was good to see how well the active duty and guard work together to complete such a successful mission as a whole," said Lascurain.

"It was a huge honor for me to be involved in the 1,000th sortie for the 313 AEW. It was the first complete combat sortie I've been involved in, (and) I'm looking forward to many more opportunities to support this and other operations," said Liedl.

The crew chiefs who recovered the aircraft upon landing were Technical Sgt. Andrew Nelson and Staff Sgt. Matthew Jackson from Bangor, Maine ANG, and Senior Airman Stephen Vanderhorst from Rickenbacker, Ohio ANG.

During the 1,000 flights, the aircraft fleet has offloaded nearly 50 million pounds of fuel to approximately 6,000 aircraft during approximately 9,000 hours of flying.