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19th MXS: Painting way into history

An Airman in a white suit speaks with another Airman on a set of stairs next to a C-130J.

Airman 1st Class Jacob White, 19th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeyman, prepares to paint the tail of a C-130J Super Hercules at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Sept. 22, 2020. The shop painted two C-130s to display the 41st and 61st Airlift Squadron’s rich heritage –– helping everyone to remember the stories of those before us, while paving the way for those to come. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

Two men in white suits prepare to spray bright orange paint onto the tail of a C-130J.

Two Airmen from the 19th Maintenance Squadron Corrosion Control Shop prepare to paint the tail of a C-130J Super Hercules at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Sept. 22, 2020. The Corrosion Control Shop solidified themselves in LRAFB’s history with their efforts in transforming two C-130J’s to match the paint schemes of planes connected to the heritage of the 41st and 61st Airlift Squadrons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

An Airman in a white suit sprays bright orange paint onto the tail of a C-130J.

Senior Airman Jonathan Ten Broek, 19th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeyman, sprays orange paint on to the tail of a C-130J Super Hercules at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Sept. 22, 2020. The Corrosion Control Shop solidified themselves in LRAFB’s history with their efforts in transforming two C-130J’s to match the paint schemes of planes connected to the heritage of the 41st and 61st Airlift Squadrons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

An Airman in a white suit walks down a set of stairs.

Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford, 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, descends a set of stairs after photographing Airmen from the 19th Maintenance Squadron Corrosion Control Shop painting the tail of a C-130J Super Hercules at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Sept. 22, 2020. The shop painted two C-130s to display the 41st and 61st Airlift Squadron’s rich heritage –– helping everyone to remember the stories of those before us, while paving the way for those to come. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

The 19th Maintenance Squadron corrosion control shop solidified themselves in Little Rock Air Force Base’s history with their efforts in transforming two C-130J’s paint schemes to connect back to the heritage of the 41st and 61st Airlift Squadrons.

The painting process began with the shop sourcing the paint that would be used to paint the planes in their perspective respective patterns.

“These are non-standard Air Force paints, so the approval process to acquire them was quite lengthy,” said Maj. Bradley Allen, 19th MXS commander. “Especially the orange paint — there were only a small number of manufacturers with the specific color needed.”

Once the paint arrived, the team began working on the 41st AS paint scheme. Its tail received camouflage paint and the words “Honeymoon Express” were stenciled on the right side of the aircraft. This design pays tribute to the 41st Troop Carrier Squadron’s Honeymoon Express, which led the first mass airdrop in the Pacific during World War II. It consisted of a 79-ship formation for an airborne assault of the airfield at Nadzab, Papua New Guinea.

 “We were immensely lucky that the temperature and humidity worked in our favor and the paint was sprayed with minimal issues,” Allen said.

Then moving on to the 61st AS paint scheme, with orange on the tail, nose, and wings. This design pays homage to the C-130s flown by “The Four Horsemen” and the 61st Troop Carrier Squadron.

Upon completion, the corrosion control shop reflected on the time and effort that was required to complete these planes –– finishing them over a week ahead of schedule and in time for Little Rock Air Force Base’s 65th anniversary aerial review and celebration.

“It was a culmination of all three shift’s hard work,” said Airman 1st Class Jacob White, 19th MXS aircraft structural maintenance journeyman. “Everybody in this shop had a part to play. We finished ahead of schedule, which wouldn’t have happened without good communication and teamwork by everyone involved.”

The Airmen who played a part in getting these C-130s painted have helped forge historical ties for 19th Airlift Wing and Little Rock AFB.

“It is a great feeling and sense of pride to see our hard work come to fruition,” White said. “Connecting our present with our past, and sharing that with Airmen is really meaningful work.”

The opportunity to display these units rich heritage again is seen as beneficial to all Airmen of TLR –– as well as the local community –– helping everyone to remember the stories of those before us, while paving the way for those to come.

“It is extremely important to connect our Airmen with what we've done in the past, what we've learned from the past, what we're doing now and how we're preparing for the future,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ray Mullins, 19th MXS superintendent. “Anytime someone sees these heritage planes, they will see where we came from and how we integrate our past into our future and instilling a sense of pride –– knowing they helped bring these paint schemes back to life.”