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Face of Defense: Airman Designs White House Christmas Tree Ornament

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Luke Johnson
Special to American Forces Press Service

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. , Dec. 24, 2008 – A reservist with the 940th Air Refueling Wing here was selected by California's 2nd district congressman and the 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander to design an ornament for the White House Christmas tree.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
The ornament for the White House Christmas tree designed by Chief Master Sgt. Stuart Bisland, an Air Force reservist at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., showcases the emerging intelligence missions performed there. Bisland was asked by California's second district congressman and the 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander to design an ornament for the White House tree. (Courtesy photo)
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The theme for this year's White House Christmas celebration is "Red, White and Blue Christmas," and the ornaments featured on the tree were decorated by artists around the country to represent the unique patriotic spirit of each artist's state.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Stuart Bisland designed the "Team Beale" ornament for the White House Christmas tree. At the request of first lady Laura Bush, Bisland was present for the unveiling of the tree.

"Back in September, I was contacted by Brig. Gen. Robert Otto and his staff and asked to paint the White House ornament," Bisland said. "They asked me to depict the emerging intelligence missions we perform at Beale Air Force Base."

On one side of the ornament is the curvature of the Earth, space and the moon, with an RQ-4 Global Hawk flying on the edge of the atmosphere and a satellite in the distance.

On the other side of the ornament is a U-2 "Dragon Lady" flying through lightning with the Sutter Buttes in the background. The ornament also features the Team Beale logo surrounded by new and old Air Force insignia.

The chief also managed to include a personal touch to the ornament.

"In dedication to my late father, Richard Bisland, a Grumman aerospace lunar module engineer, I airbrushed a very small gold lunar module launching from the moon," Bisland said.

The experience and the opportunity to represent Beale and the Air Force at the unveiling of the White House Christmas tree was overwhelming, Bislund said.

"What makes this tree so special is that every inch of the 20-foot Fraser fir [from North Carolina] is decorated with red, white and blue decorations and the ornaments painted for Mrs. Bush and our congressmen," he said. "Standing in its presence, you get a real sense of the honor to be a chosen artist for your state. This was quite an experience, and I was proud to represent the 9th RW, the Air Force Reserve, the 940th ARW and all of the airmen of Beale.”

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Luke Johnson serves in the 940th Air Refueling Wing public affairs office.)

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