After completing navigator training and being selected to fly fighters, I painted my next piece of artwork during F-4D RTU at Homestead AFB, FL, in the 309th TFTS ‘Wild Ducks’ in about spring 1983. I painted the image of Donald Duck on a field of blue as it appeared in the center of our squadron’s patch with acrylics on a 24″ x 36″ canvas, but without the rest of the details contained on the patch. The painting actually turned out very well, and despite not wanting to sign it as it was a gift to the squadron, I believe I was asked to sign it anyway. My only regret was I never took a photo to document the painting itself.
The experience I gained at Homestead AFB led me to paint a number of squadron patches at my follow-on overseas assignment flying the F-4E/G in the 480th TFS ‘Great Warhawk Nation’ at Spangdahlem AB, during the years 1983-1987, which was in West Germany at the time. The first two patches I painted were on concrete walls in the squadron and about five feet across in size, but I never photographed these patches either. It wasn’t until the squadron deployed to RAF Sculthorpe, UK, in 1985 that I began photographing the patches I painted once the were completed.
I painted today’s patch example freehand on the brick wall of a Quonset hut, where I set up our squadron’s Life Support Shop for the 30-day deployment. I only signed my painting after-the-fact when I was asked to, as I always considered my artwork to belong to the squadron once completed:
‘480th TFS Squadron Patch #1’ (Spring 1985)
(Original Painting by Mark D. Jones)