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171st ARW KC-135 Colors the Sky with Nose Art

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Fariss
  • 171st Air Refueling Wing
The 171st Air Refueling Wing renewed its tradition of decorating its planes with nose art on July 29, 2016. The artist of this project is Donna Mrdjenovich. She has been utilizing her craft at the 171st ARW since 1998.

"Lady Justice", the title of this nose art was chosen by the crew chiefs of the KC-135 Stratotanker, Master Sgt. Timothy A. Springer and Staff Sgt. Amanda D. Duranke. This is a design they had on another plane a few years earlier. 

The statue has a blindfold, which represents justice is blind, and a dual-edged sword because justice cuts both ways, according to Springer. "Courthouses around the world use this symbol to show justice," said Springer, who loves the symbol so mush he has it tattooed on his arm.

Mrdjenovich completed this entire painting in less than two days. She has applied her craft to more than 50 aircraft.  Some projects take under a day while others take a few days. Her longest took five days to complete and was titled "The Patriot". "I love to see the enthusiasm of the crew and how it boosts the Airmen's morale," stated Mrdjenovich. "I feel good to be able to give something back to them. Something they are proud of since they give so much for all of us."

"The Patriot was one of my favorite nose arts to do," stated Mrdjenovich. "It is a collage of various American landmarks and important events such as Mount Rushmore, the Vietnam Memorial, Independence Hall and the Space Shuttle."

All nose art suggestions must go through an approval process. The Crew Chiefs work with the artist to develop a sketch, which is submitted to the Wing Commander for approval. The Wing Commander gives his/her recommendation and submits the proposed artwork to the National Guard Bureau who must give final approval. The nose art must be distinctive, designed in good taste, symbolic, enhance unit pride, and comply with equal opportunity policies according to an Air Force memorandum.

The members of the 171st ARW continue to look at "Lady Justice" with amazement and pride while anxiously awaiting for Mrdjenovich to complete all 16 of the Wing's aircraft.