Thunderbolt nation mural highlights Luke’s heritage

The team of Thunderbolt artists pose for a group photo in front the “Welcome to Thunderbolt Nation” mural at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., May 9, 2018. Over the course of a month, the team worked together to complete the mural, which represents Luke’s heritage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

The team of Thunderbolt artists pose for a group photo in front the “Welcome to Thunderbolt Nation” mural at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., May 9, 2018. Over the course of a month, the team worked together to complete the mural, which represents Luke’s heritage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- “When I first drove onto the base, I noticed the wall and how blank it was,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Garza, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics planner. “That’s when I knew something had to be done.”

After seeking approval from leadership, Garza came up with a concept design for the mural.. Garza then recruited three other Airmen he knew were avid painters: Airman 1st Class John Lindeman and Senior Airman Bridgette Thompson, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance journeymen; Airman 1st Class Sarah Wisler, 56th Communications Squadron, network operations technician.

“There is a lot of heritage at this base that I feel wasn’t as broadly represented until now,” Garza said. “With this mural, I wanted to pay a tribute to all of the ones that have come before us as well as the aircraft that have been flown here. In the painting, we silhouetted all of the old warfighters and added color on our current fighter aircraft representing the progression of airpower here at Luke.”

Each Airman was proficient in a different style of painting. Garza has experience in graffiti art, while Lindeman is used to painting landscapes. Thomson enjoys painting portraits and for Wisler, fine art.
“With each artist having their own style and technical expertise, it was really cool to see everyone’s style blend together to complete this project,” Garza said.

Throughout the project, the team would evaluate their own work to ensure they were all on the same track.

“Communication played a big part,” Lindeman said. “Throughout the process, we had to provide honest feedback to one another to discuss what we liked and disliked about our work.”

Garza and the team hopes the mural will not only become a major landmark for the base but also provide visitors with a great location for a photo opportunity.

“We want this to be something people can remember when they come to Luke Air Force Base,” Garza said.

In the future, Garza plans to start an art club on base for aspiring artists to share and grow their passion in painting.