Air Force Men’s Mural Is Salute to Challenger Crew

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Times Staff Writer

Two men from the Air Force Space Division in El Segundo, one an amateur artist who specializes in pencil drawings, have painted a mural during their lunch hours and days off as a memorial to the crew of the space shuttle Challenger.

Tech. Sgt. Don Anthes and 2nd Lt. Scott Payne have been working on the mural since last month. It will be dedicated at 10 a.m. Friday. Anthes, 38, has painted the astronauts’ portraits, while Payne, who has a background in architectural drafting, has been been working on the depiction of the space shuttle and the mural’s background.

The mural is being drawn with pastel crayons and chalk on a wall of a building at the Los Angeles Air Force Station, which offers various services to people who work there. While the mural was inspired by the Challenger crew, the servicemen stressed that it is intended to salute all astronauts.


Others Took Chances

Anthes said that he wants people to remember that other astronauts took chances with their lives, too. “I did this so that they are remembered for their whole lifetimes,” he said.

Col. Bill Sawyer, base commander, said it took him about “30 seconds” to give approval to the servicemen for the mural.

“It’s an outstanding piece of artwork,” he said. “I think it has a lot more value to people on the base because it was painted by their peers rather than professional artists.”

Payne, 27, said that he and Anthes originally paid for the supplies themselves, but later two anonymous donors sent money to pay for the project. He declined to give a cost estimate.

Models Being Built

A third serviceman, Staff Sgt. Paul Schneider, is building plastic models for a glass display case to accompany the mural.

“I can’t draw or paint, but I wanted very much to help in some way,” said Schneider, 39. “That’s when it was suggested that I build models of the shuttle and astronauts.”


For the figures, he is using basic model kits of the kind hobbyists use.

“I work on them for a couple of hours a day. For the shuttle itself, it takes at least 10 hours, because it is quite detailed.”