Maintainer by day, artist by night

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Krystal Wright
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing has a long history dating back to the Tuskegee Airmen, who had formed the 332nd Fighter Group that would later become the 332nd AEW. Even today they still refer to themselves at the “red tails.”

Over the years, the unit was reassigned from Lockbourn (later named Ricken Air National Guard Base), Ohio, to different locations to include Tallil Air Base, Iraq, and Joint Base Balad, Iraq. At every location, the unit continued to provide the same quality of air support their predecessors were known for.

There was one thing the Airmen of 332nd AEW always create at each location: a mural painted in tribute to their heritage, honoring the Tuskegee Airmen. The unit was reassigned to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia in 2016, but had not yet recreated the historic and traditional painting.

One Airmen stepped up and painted this mural, which it was presented April 6, 2018, and displayed at the base’s main intersection.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Martinez, 332nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, has been passionate about art since “a very young age” with a particular interest in comics. He loved “seeing the joy in people’s faces” when they viewed his work, he said.

When members of his leadership discovered his talent, Martinez was approached with suggestions on various way to help the unit show its pride while deployed.  

Martinez response to the ideas was, “Absolutely, I would love to.”

In addition to the mural, he did other works of art around the unit – only, they weren’t drawn on a wall. 

When the aspiring graphic artist wasn’t fixing up the 336th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron’s F-15E Strike Eagles, he started drawing nose art on them. Currently, six images have been completed with another two partially done.

Images include Old Yeller, a cartoon rocket, the four horsemen, a cartoon plane, the American Flag with the profile of three Tuskegee Airmen, and wings decorating the first initial of a maintainer’s son who had passed away.

“It was pretty interesting to do,” Martinez said. “It was a challenge, but fun.”

“After I did the first one, a lot of people asked if I could do more … designs (on the) jets,” continued the native of Houston, Texas. “Everybody loved it.”

Once he returns to his home station, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, Martinez hopes to continue doing art for the military to include a wall mural.