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Tail Flash unveiling ceremony depicts unit pride of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard

April 14, 2016 (by 156th AW) - A base wide contest was held to pick the tail flash design that represented the rich heritage of the airmen of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard and the people of Puerto Rico.

U.S. Air Force airmen unveils the winning tail flash for 156th AW, Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Carolina, Puerto Rico, during the WC-130 Tail Flash Unveiling Ceremony in Hangar 1, March 6, 2016. Winning design was designed by SSgt. Luis A. Morales, aircrew flight equipment of the 156th Operation Squadron. [ANG photo by TSgt. Efrain Sanchez]

Out of the seven unique and artistic tail flash designs submitted for consideration, the design selected to represent the 156th Airlift Wing was created by Staff Sgt. Luis A. Morales, aircrew flight equipment technician of the 156th Operation Group.

A six member committee of varying ranks from different sections of the base evaluated the seven designs and selected Morales' design based on its ability to portray the unique spirit of the PRANG's history, heritage and culture. As the senior ranking officer in the selection committee, Lt. Col. Catherine Valdez, chief intelligence officer of the 156th AW, attributes Morales' selection due to his professional presentation of his design.

"It was obvious that he took pride in his artistic work," said Valdez. "Based on the quality, details and creative effort within his design, you can tell he took the time to ponder what the PRANG is as a whole and transferred his vision into an art form."

Not only did Morales abide by the contest design requirements to include the "Garita", Spaniard Sentry Post, and the Puerto Rican flag, he imbedded rich symbolism into every aspect of his tail flash design.

"The tail flash design means more than a competition to me," said Morales. "It means that I can tell our history, heritage, values, culture, vision and mission, anywhere our aircrafts are performing, in just one piece of art."

The two unique indigenous symbols Morales incorporated into his tail flash design are the Taino Sun and the African boarder pattern that outlines the tail flash design. These indigenous symbols represent the ethnic history within Puerto Rico and how both these tribes bound together to work towards a brighter future. The "Garita" serves a dual meaning of Spanish ethnic history and military defense since the PRANG provides the front line military defense for the U.S. from its strategic location in the Atlantic. The waving Puerto Rican flag symbolizes the PRANG's geographic location while the Puerto Rico font style represents the happiness and joy of the Caribbean culture. Together each symbol tells a story of tradition, honor, strength and pride found among the people of Puerto Rico and within the PRANG.

"Simply put, his [Morales] design represents the things that make us proud of who we are," said 2nd Lt. Emire Rodriguez, personnel officer of the 156th Force Support Squadron. "When I saw the design displayed on the aircraft I felt proud of my identity as a Puerto Rican and a sense of ownership of that aircraft."

"I hope the tail flash creates a lasting impact," said Morales. "I want to make sure that every time we perform to our best, everyone know we are from the PRANG."

Due to personal reasons, Morales was unable to attend the unveiling ceremony and receive recognition for his winning tail flash design. Morales' tail flash designs will be the first time in the PRANG's history that a C-130 assigned to Muñiz Air National Guard Base has had a unique tail flash design. Morales' design will mark the WC-130s with the unit's new symbol, as well of making a bit of PRANG history.

Courtesy of 156th Airlift Wing

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SSgt. Luis A. Morales, left, 156th AW aircrew flight equipment technician, and TSgt. Victor Flores, right, 156th AW metal shop technician, hold the miniature tail flash replica that they collaborated to create for the March 6 PRANG tail flash design contest. [ANG photo by 1st Lt. Claudia Villasenor]