Rosie the Riveter nose art honors women of Dover Air Force Base’s Maintenance Squadron


Master Sgt. Christine King, 712th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, pulls down a drape unveiling the “Keep ‘em Flying” nose art during a ceremony Thursday at Dover Air Force Base. Master Sgt. King is the dedicated crew chief for this C-17 Globemaster III, tail number 6168. She was helped by Maj. Gen. Carol Timmons, Delaware adjutant general, Col. Sherry Teague, 512th Maintenance Group commander, Mayor of Dover Robin Christiansen, and Col. Ethan Griffin, 436th Airlift Wing commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Zachary Cacicia)

DOVER — Master Sgt. Christine King couldn’t help but keep sneaking peeks at the left front of the fuselage of the C-17 Globemaster III that she serves as dedicated crew chief on at Dover Air Force Base.

Master Sgt. King felt an extra sense of pride as she looked at her aircraft, tail no. 6168 of Team Dover, which now features nose art by artist Greg Hildebrandt that pays tribute to the original “Keep ’em Flying” Rosie the Riveter World War II recruiting effort that got thousands of women involved with aircraft maintenance.

“I think (Rosie) looks very capable,” said Master Sgt. King, after helping unveil the new — and somewhat rare nowadays — nose art inside of a hangar at DAFB on Thursday morning. “She represents us and is still kind of the old-time thing, but it’s new on the aircraft. So yeah, we’re really pleased with her.”

Chief Master Sgt. Bryan “Skip” Ford, 512th Maintenance Squadron superintendent, said the tribute couldn’t have gone to a more fitting aircraft.

He said the nose art pays tribute to past, present and future female maintainers, whose tireless efforts and confident professionalism continue to ensure mission readiness across the Air Force.

“The intent for this whole thing is to honor lady maintainers from 1942 through the present day,” Chief Master Sgt. Ford said. “This really is about Dover, this is about all lady maintainers. We want them to know how much we appreciate what they do on a daily basis.”

Staff Sgt. Shane Dye, 436th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance, pulls off a protective layer revealing the “Keep ‘em Flying” C-17 Globemaster III nose art March 21, 2018. Staff Sgt. Dye was part of a team of Airmen who applied the nose art decal the day prior to its unveiling ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Zachary Cacicia)

Col. Sherry Teague, commander of the 512th Maintenance Group at DAFB, delivered an inspirational speech before the artwork was unveiled.

During her remarks, she honored trailblazers such as World War II legendary pilot and engineer Mary Feik, plus Elinor Otto, an original “Rosie the Riveter,” as well as Janet Wolfenbarger, who became the Air Force’s first female four-star general, and Brig. Gen. Carol Timmons, who assumed duties as the first female Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard in February 2017.

“All of these people paved the way and were pathfinders and because of them and many, many others, I’m proud to say that little girls in every corner of the United States can dream and be anything they want to be in the military,” Col. Teague said.

Ms. Otto, known as the “Last Rosie the Riveter,” holds a special place in DAFB’s female maintainers hearts, considering that she built airplanes for 50 years and helped build all 279 C-17s during a remarkable 68-year career. She retired at age 93.

Col. Teague said if it wasn’t for trailblazers like the women who rose to the call back in World War II — legends such as Ms. Otto — the world might be an entirely different place.

“It’s important that we remember these contributions and all the contributions women like her made in aviation,” Col. Teague said. “In reality, they were the force behind World War II. They produced and delivered many of the crucial aircraft that were vital to American victory.

“And at the time, not many people thought they could do it, especially factory owners and industrial bosses. They seriously doubted women were up to the task. But as history has shown us repeatedly, women were not only up to the task, they are incredibly technically savvy.”

Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen attended the unveiling and paid his respects to the women who serve at the air base.

“I’m glad to be here to help honor the women who have built and united and have defended this country,” Mayor Christiansen said. “The only thing I have to say is ‘Thank you,’ to those women who have served in the past, to those women who serve today and those who will serve in the future.”

Col. Ethan Griffin, 436th Airlift Wing Commander at DAFB, said he thought the nose art on the C-17 was a fitting tribute to the women in Dover’s Maintenance Squadron.

“I’d like to thank (artist) Greg Hildebrandt,” he said. “What a wonderful representation of our strong, confident, courageous female maintainers — an absolutely beautiful job. We owe him a debt of gratitude.”

Col. Teague said Mr. Hildebrandt’s work also pays homage to the vision and spirit of Master Sgt. King and Sgt. Brinnae Wigley, who are both dedicated crew chiefs on C-17s at Dover, as well as the female maintainers on base.

“Getting Rosie put on the nose of (C-17 No.) 6168 has been a very long two-year project with many obstacles thrown in the way, but it was a labor of love that was born out of respect for all of the lady maintainers who served past and present,” Col. Teague said. “It’s important that we remember those contributions and all of those that they made to aviation.”

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