Airman by day, artisan by night

  • Published
  • By Airman Shen-Chia Chu
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
His hands are covered red in paint. Squinting his eyes, he centers all of his concentration into his masterpiece. Showing his patience, he mixes multiple colors together with a motion of his wrist.

As an Airman, a husband, and father of two involved in community service, this airbrush artist custom paints motorcycles and more while off-duty.

But on-duty, Staff Sgt. Randy Long, 436th Aerial Port Squadron capability forecaster, moves cargo and passengers.

So, how does he find the time?

"Prioritizing is a must for the demanding needs of everyday life," said Sergeant Long. "The importance of our military mission, focusing on my family needs, and taking pleasure in my hobbies and volunteer work are what come first in my life."

Lt. Col. Brian Fletcher, 436th APS commander, agrees. He believes people should have fun while volunteering and doing things they like.

"Many Dover Airmen, like Sergeant Long, play a huge role volunteering in the community," said Colonel Fletcher. "People need to volunteer for something they enjoy, because it's not just about a performance-report bullet."

Sergeant Long said he has enjoyed airbrushing professionally for almost 14 years and originally started out painting cars in an auto-body shop at 13 years old.

"My mother got me interested in airbrushing because she thought it was a good way to relieve stress," he said. "I've been addicted to it ever since."

Like a wizard creating a magical creature in his lair with his airbrush wand, he painted a portrait of a fiery red dragon with 'true fire,' a term the sergeant says describes real flames from a fire. The 18-by-24 inch airbrushed metal sign panel was recently donated to the Dallas Reid ride silent auction, a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes through the Iacocca Foundation in Indianapolis.

"I was the only military member invited to create a panel, along with 20 other artists, who are well known for their airbrushes throughout the U.S.," said the sergeant.

His dragon was auctioned for $275, helping the foundation raise more than $90,000 so far to research a cure for diabetes.

"I can paint just about anything," he said. "I've designed and airbrushed car-hood murals, motorcycle fenders and tanks - painting everything from Gameboys to $50,000 motorcycles."

Currently, Sergeant Long is working on the airbrush project of a 2003 Harley Davidson anniversary-addition 'Fat Boy' motorcycle that belongs to Maj. Brian Eddy, 436th Services Squadron commander.

"When I saw pictures of the work he had done, I absolutely loved his work and I knew he was the one to paint my bike," said Major Eddy. "I'm also talking to him about getting more artwork done on my truck to resemble my bike."

Sergeant Long said he has had four customers ask for motorcycle airbrushes and one for a hockey mask since 2004.

"I'm self-taught in all the art that I create and I love challenges of trying new things," said Sergeant Long. "My art helps balance out my life."