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One big (really big) family portrait at the 162nd Wing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Erich B. Smith
  • 162nd Wing Public Affairs
What family doesn't have a portrait?

In what was arguably the greatest collection of Arizona military talent assembled in recent memory, 162nd Wing members - nearly 1,300 of them - converged at the Tucson International Airport to be captured on digital imagery Oct. 5.

For Col. Phil Purcell, commander of the 162nd Wing, the decision to have a portrait was more than just about decorating the halls of the wing's headquarters building; it was about capturing his family.

"The 162nd Wing is not just an incredible team, but a close-knit family," said Purcell. "What better way to capture that spirit, and the importance of our global mission sets, than family photos."

Coordinating the event, which preceded group and section photos throughout the day, presented the wing's visual information experts challenges they normally don't face during traditional unit training assemblies.

"Photography is so much more than just pointing the camera and clicking a button," said Staff Sgt. Heather Davis, public affairs specialist for the 162nd Wing. "It is an art form that requires math, science, creativity and the ability to manifest a conceptual vision into reality."

The set-up was simple, at least on paper: Airmen - positioned in a V shape - centered between two F-16 Fighting Falcons that were positioned behind unit members. The bellowing authority of Command Chief Master Sgt. Thomas R. Vandervort, coupled with the use of his bullhorn, assisted photographers in ensuring wing personnel were in their assigned spots.

"The wing photo required exceptional technical skill, weeks of planning and extensive coordination across base," said Davis.

Finally, when all the pre-planning and coordinating came to fruition, the aperture opened, the shutter released and the image was captured on a memory sensor, thus documenting and securing today's Citizen-Airmen their rightful place in the history of the 162nd Wing.

"There are plenty of videos of fighter jets in formation or pararescue specialists jumping out of planes that are all stunning visuals," said Staff Sgt. Dina Farmer, public affairs specialist, "But sometimes, a still picture of Airmen can say a lot as well."

"We are incredibly thankful to all of those who assisted us in coordinating, organizing and carrying out the day," said Davis. "We were able to capture thousands of memories of our current 162nd Wing family."