KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
Though insurgents and infantrymen may never see him, Sgt. Edwardo Amor is everywhere in southern Afghanistan.
The Marine Attack Squadron 513 commanding officer’s AV-8B Harrier, numbered “01,” bears Amor’s artwork on its tail. In that sense, wherever the Harrier flies so does Amor.
The design displays the VMA-513 Nightmares’ trademark owl against a backdrop of lightning. The squadron title is emblazoned in golden-yellow lettering contrasting the moodier blue layer of the background.
The Dallas native, after getting input from other Marines and submitting sketches up the chain of command, painted the aircraft days before the squadron deployed from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., in May.
“That design was not planned,” Amor said with a laugh. “Basically, I just practiced on a sheet of metal, my Gunny liked it, and he told me to do it on the aircraft.”
“Sgt. Amor actually created the entire design virtually from scratch,” said Gunnery Sgt. Noel Mallari, then the VMA-513 airframes division chief and a Riverside, Calif., native. “His interest in painting the aircraft was an enthusiastic and personal project for himself.”
So, picking up an airbrush kit for nearly the first time, Amor, who serves the squadron as an airframes mechanic, set out to work on the emblem that would eventually define the squadron’s image.
“I was pretty nervous because I’ve never airbrushed before,” said Amor. “It was either hit or miss.”
A challenge, to be sure, but for Amor, that was the reward.
“I make it a challenge to see what I can come up with,” he said. ““It’s fun to be creative and draw something from my head and put it in art in front of me.”
Creativity can stem from many sources. In Amor’s case, the jagged lightning bolts, the regal typeface and the sinister owl were partly inspired by the fact Amor would be deploying with the mission to provide close-air support for Marines and their Afghan and coalition partners.
“I wanted this aircraft to look pretty cool, flying through combat and dropping bombs,” Amor said. “I wanted to make that aircraft unique. I want people to know who 513 is.”
“He poured all his pride and effort into that project, making it the best that he could make it, and in the end it was more than what anyone expected,” added Mallari.
This is not the first time Amor’s artistic talent has been recognized within the military.
“Yes, I was the ‘artist’ recruit (in boot camp),” he said with a chuckle. “I had to design a foot locker for my senior drill instructor.”
Amor’s knack for artistry is not altogether surprising. Before becoming a Marine, he studied at the Art Institute of Dallas, a natural academic environment considering his upbringing.
“It basically runs through the family,” said Amor. “My dad was an artist, and my siblings are artists. I was always in some kind of art class through grade school. I’ve done all kinds of arts.”
Evens so, Amor was looking for another canvas to paint. His reasons for joining the Marine Corps are as varied as his artwork.
“I just wanted to change my life around,” he said, “to do something different, be able to visit the world, and I wanted to work on a jet.”
Nearing the end of his enlistment, Amor said he now plans to go on to study architecture. In the meantime, he continues to support combat operations in Afghanistan, something he is acutely reminded of when he watches Aircraft 01 go on the runway.
“I challenged myself to do something and I did it,” he said. “I’m pretty proud of myself that I designed something that’s going to be around for a while and that people are going to see throughout the Marine Corps.”
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