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                                     Cobra Ball receives new nose art, artist gets up-close look
                                                       55th Wing Public Affairs / Published January 26, 2018
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
          An RC-135S Cobra Ball assigned to the 55th Wing here was the latest aircraft to receive nose art as part of an effort to bring back a popular tradition used during World War II where units decorated their aircraft to display unit pride.
The design’s artist, Jerrica Skipper, traveled here Jan. 23 to see the nose art, which will now be permanently displayed on the reconnaissance aircraft for years to come as it carries out missions across the world.
“It’s crazy that I was able to get this opportunity,” said Skipper. “I never thought something like this would happen to me in little Carriere, Mississippi.”
It was only by chance that she got the opportunity. It started when maintainers in the 83rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit squadron began looking for a good artist.
“After having different nose art discussions with my wife, Marcia, we reached out to her brother, Dustin Black, a Chevron engineer based in Mobile, Alabama,” said retired Air Force Master Sgt. Rick Brown who was assigned to the 83rd AMU.
Her brother, a former military service-member, also appreciated nose art. He mentioned the need for a talented artist with his colleague, who said he knew of a “brilliant” artist named Jerrica Skipper.
Once the connection was made, Brown discussed their vision with her and provided a patch previously worn by crewmembers in the 1960s and 70s. From there, she took the concept and ran with it.
Brown said the design is symbolic of the aircraft’s mission.
 “The ball represents the Earth, the purple part with the star is the missile coming up from the earth and the snake, which represents the aircraft, is protecting the Earth,” Brown said.
As part of Skipper’s visit, Brown gave her a personal tour of the aircraft where she received a letter of appreciation along with mementos from the 55th Maintenance Group.
Skipper said she’s been drawing and painting since grade school and was excited to be a part of such a unique opportunity.
“I’ve always had a love for art and [mixed martial arts],” Skipper said. “It’s how I express myself; through art and fighting. I like to paint with passion and energy.”
Nose art has historically been a tradition led by maintainers. The maintainers at Offutt often work in the worst of weather, both here and deployed, to make sure 55th Wing aircraft are capable of carrying out the wing’s global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Brown said nose art is important to the morale of those units.
“It instills pride and honor in the maintainers who experience the constant pressure and grind of keeping these aircraft flying,” Brown said. “Nose art is more than a piece of art – it is a symbol of the maintainers’ dedication and perseverance to ensuring freedom for all.”
Brown and his colleague, retired Senior Master Sgt. Chad Heithoff, came up with idea in 2015 with the full support of their leadership.
Col. Clayton Seale, the 55th Maintenance Group commander, said he’s glad to see the nose art program become such a success.
"Nose Art is a direct link to our history and heritage and it is a way for the maintainers to show pride and ownership in their aircraft,” Seale said. “It will be a great day when the last aircraft at Offutt gets its unique art work applied. We are working very hard to make that a reality in the near future."


          
AL UDEID AIRBASE, Qatar --  On Aug 2. 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait with a series of bombings in the country’s capital, Kuwait City.
          Four days later, Operation Desert Shield kicked off and on Aug. 9, the first RC-135 Rivet Joint mission of the 55th Wing flew over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. This mission officially began the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the 4077th Reconnaissance Squadron until 1998.
          After Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the unit continued to support theater and national-level consumers with real-time, on-scene intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities to U.S. and coalition forces. The unit stayed in the Middle East and supported Operation Southern Watch from Aug. 1992 to March 2003, and both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom for the majority of the 2000s. In Aug. 2003, the RJs transitioned from Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, to here at Al Udeid. It was then that the 763rd ERS was born into the full squadron it is today.
          “The reason the 763rd has been in CENTCOM for so long is because of the unparalleled capabilities our aircraft brings in helping fight and win our nation's wars,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Gray, 763rd ERS commander.
          Currently, the 763rd ERS consists entirely of Airmen and aircraft from the 55th Wing from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. This Christmas Eve, on the 10,000 day of being in the AOR, Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, flew over from the United States to visit his deployed unit here at AUAB.
          “It is an absolute honor to serve as commander of the Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth and to be here with our deployed warriors for this historic occasion,” Manion said. “This milestone not only shows the Warhawks’ dedication to the mission, but also proves we have the resolve to stay until the job is done.”
          Twenty-seven years have passed since the 763rd began and the unit continues to support Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel in the AOR, standing ready for any future operations that may come to the theater.
          “It is exciting to know that we are part of a long lineage of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance Airmen who have contributed to operations in this AOR over the past 10,000 days,” Gray said. “We are driven every day knowing that we have the high standard of so many who came before to live up to.”



 

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