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Utah ANG embraces its legacy with tribute plaque to General Wright

SALT LAKE CITY -- A plaque that tributes the first air commander of the Utah Air National Guard Base, Brig. Gen. Roland R. Wright, was recently hung in the History Hall upstairs at the 151st Air Refueling Wing Headquarters building.

The plaque, a shadow box which commemorates General Wright's contributions as a fighter pilot during World War II, was first presented to General Wright during an Honorary Colonel's luncheon on base December 2.

"It's important that people come upstairs and read the story on this plaque," said Col. Kelvin G. Findlay, the Utah ANG's Chief of Staff. "It exemplifies our proud history and our legacy here at the Utah ANG base. It's inspiring to learn about what our predecessors, our fellow Guard members, have done."

Within General Wright's tribute shadow box, is the story of a dogfight involving General Wright and two German ME 262 "Swallow" jets. The article explains not only how the enemy was defeated, but also how General Wright lived to tell about it. His deeds that day later earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Tech. Sgt. Rachel Hall, 151st ARW, was assigned the task of researching and gathering the material for General Wright's shadow box. The story was compiled from her interviews with General Wright, and from a letter which was written by the flight lead on that flight.

"This is the type of story you'd see in movies, but it's real life and I got to meet the star," said Sergeant Hall. "I don't think that younger Airmen realize the full extent of what has happened before them. This project has opened my eyes to the huge accomplishments of those before us. It has made me very grateful for their enormous contributions."

Later, General Wright won the William Tell gunnery competition three years in a row piloting a North American F-86 Sabre. He was one of the original 17 founding members of Utah ANG, and he commanded the base from 1957-1969.

Several items of related interest are featured within General Wright's tribute shadow box, including a World War II era photo of General Wright standing by the P-51 fighter plane he dubbed the "Mormon Mustang." His photo and article can be viewed in the History Hall.