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“Joker’s Wild” comes back into play

Jokers Wild

Staff Sgt. Curtis Gentry, Assistant Crew Chief for KC-135 Stratotanker tail number 323, unveils the nose art for “Joker’s Wild” here Oct 13 while unit members watch. This is the fourth nose art dedication for the 940th Air Refueling Wing. The 940 ARW eventually would like each of its eight tankers to display art on their noses. (U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Morgan Brown)

Jokers Wild

“Joker’s Wild” nose art was unveiled at the 940th Air Refueling Wing Oct. 13. This is one of four nose art dedications for the unit since converting back to KC-135 Stratotankers in 2016 (U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Morgan Brown)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The fourth nose art dedication was unveiled Oct. 13, 2018 at the 940th Air Refueling Wing on one of eight KC-135 Stratotankers assigned to the Reserve unit at Beale Air Force Base.

Adding artwork to the front of an aircraft is a long-standing tradition, stemming back to World War I. From sharp teeth to combat cartoon characters, these paintings became a morale-booster for the troops during the war.

The 940th ARW has been bringing the tradition to life again, after being re-designated as a tanker air refueling unit in 2016.

“Today is about the heritage work that our maintenance technicians do, that is once again allowed to be displayed on the nose of airplanes,” said Col. Joe Orcutt, 940th Maintenance Group Commander. “Back in the day it was a very motivating and morale builder, especially during war time. The Air Force removed nose art for a while, but we are in the process of bringing it back because they (the Air Force) realize how important heritage and morale are to each and every unit.”

Each aircraft with the 940th ARW is assigned two crew chiefs who are in charge of the plane.

For “Joker’s Wild” it belongs to Dedicated Crew Chief (DCC) Master Sgt. Michael Carrillo and Assistant Crew Chief (ACC) Staff Sgt. Curtis Gentry. They are the ones who came up with this nose-art for their tanker, according to 940th ARW Commander, Col. Stephanie Williams.

“It is awesome that these Reserve Citizen Airman took the time to do these small things that show how much they care about these airplanes, how proud we are of them, and it adds character and uniqueness to each aircraft assigned here,” said Williams.

Gentry said there were a few different renditions of “Jokers Wild”  he and Carrillo found when they first began researching the history of it when it was first displayed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It has not been in common use since then, but he said it spoke to them and they decided together they wanted this art displayed on their plane.

“Nose art dates back to World War I,” said Gentry “It gave maintainers a sense of pride to get your name on an aircraft with art that means something to you dedicated to your specific aircraft and it was definitely a huge morale booster. It’s a characteristic of the jet and gives it its own identity. Aircraft 323 is our aircraft. It has our names on it, and now art work unique to us.”

The 940 ARW would eventually like all eight of its tankers to display art on their noses.