A Nation's Tribute
By Senior Airman Lindsey A. Porter, 11th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 15, 2013
WASHINGTON -- It's 7 a.m. and keyboards are clicking and printers are already humming in the command section of the 11th Operations Group at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. Home to the group's command staff, this office is the epicenter for all operations concerning The U.S. Air Force Band, Honor Guard and Chaplaincy. Despite the fast-paced environment, it's here where "A Nations Tribute" can be found, patiently hanging among the hustle.
Commissioned by Col. Gina Humble, 11th OG commander, "A Nation's Tribute" is a visual reminder of the group's daily no-fail mission at Arlington National Cemetery. Through this watercolor snap shot, each 11th OG unit is captured performing an aspect of their unique roles during an Arlington full-honors funeral.
"The idea of the painting came from thinking of an 11th Operations Group farewell gift," said Humble. "I thought, 'What's the one place where each unit comes together?' and that was of course at Arlington. When I then thought of having this painting commissioned, Lyn was who came to my mind."
Lyn Gosman, is Humble's hairdresser and has known the commander since Humble moved to the area in 2007.
"Lyn knows my background as the ops group commander and my personal connection to Arlington," said Humble. "She is also a talented artist. She runs her hairdressing business out of her home so I had the opportunity to see her work up close each time I visited her."
When asked to create a piece that would accurately characterize the specific functions of each unit and would eventually be used as a print for numerous 11th OG going-aways, Gosman reacted with enthusiasm.
"I like challenges," said Gosman. "I have no military background and I knew selecting the particular moment in time that would best reflect the overall mission would be my two biggest difficulties. I wanted to portray not just the technical aspects of the jobs, but also the deeper meaning behind what you all do. All these thoughts eventually evolved into staging a mock funeral."
Despite demanding schedules and varying unit calendars, Humble and Gosman located a day at Arlington where each unit could recreate a full honors funeral for the painter to reference. During the reenactment, 11 OG Airmen performed their specific Arlington role as if it were the real deal, only this time, letting Gosman's camera bob in and out of the ceremony. By the day's end, Gosman had snapped more than 300 referencing photographs.
Combining this drive for complete accuracy, along with an 11th OG Airmen's already acute attention to detail, Gosman went further and even borrowed specific items to use to create the painting's color pallet.
"Lyn even borrowed a pair of my blues pants to reference for accurate color," said Humble. "She went down to the finest detail to make sure everything was correct about the painting."
After more than 6 months, innumerable military manuals read and countless internet sites visited, "A Nation's Tribute" was finally revealed to Humble and her staff during a small ceremony at the 11th OG headquarters.
"It was sort of like those make over shows where you don't see the product until you walk in with the star of the show," said Humble. "When I saw it, I was really proud of the result and what it means in terms of what we do here."
With more than 200 hours of Gosman's work spent researching, referencing and painting, "A Nation's Tribute" was finally finished.
"Even though it was difficult to paint, it was enjoyable," said Gosman. "I learned a lot and it opened up a whole new world that I didn't know about before."
Touched by her friend's painting and honored by its homage to the 11th OG mission, Humble hopes the painting serves to forever illustrate the mission of the Air Force's premier ceremonial units.
"It will be an honor to give something back to this unit after I leave," said Humble. "That painting is my gift to the unit; I hope it will hang there for many years."