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Master Craftsman Studio Completes First Federally Approved Project
Master Craftsman Studio, an auxiliary unit of Florida State University Facilities, is renowned for its unique art installations and fabrications on Florida State’s campus and public commissions throughout Tallahassee and beyond. The studio achieved a landmark in its 20+ year history, completing its first federally approved monument. The Department of Veterans Affairs was the governing body responsible for the approval. On November 2, the Air Force Association (AFA) Chapter 419 revealed the United States Air Force (USAF) Memorial at the Tallahassee National Cemetery at a ceremony with members of Chapter 419 and their families, representatives from the US Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration, and various community members. The towering Memorial measures 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide, comprises four panels adorned with USAF insignia, and serves as a tribute to the remarkable service and sacrifice of USAF personnel.
The project was initiated by the local AFA Chapter 419 in 2021. The chapter members spoke to monument companies about engaging a large stone but ultimately landed on pursuing something unique that did not exist elsewhere. Major John Haynes previously collaborated with the studio for the Veterans Hall of Fame plaque at the State Capital. He advised Memorial Designer Sargeant Buddy Perryman and Memorial Coordinator Captain David Wilson to reach out to the Master Craftsman Studio, citing the exceptional work of the artisans at the studio. Captain Wilson, a graduate of the FSU Air Force ROTC, called a meeting, and Sargeant Perryman took charge of the conceptual design, which reflects the heritage of the USAF and AFA. The studio then translated their vision into CAD.
Once Chapter 419 finalized the design with Master Craftsman Studio, the local and federal approval process took a year. The production process involved several steps, including water jetting, welding, tapping, and dyeing, followed by powder coating. The entire process took two weeks to complete, which included cutting the metal, finishing the parts, assembling them, disassembling, powder coating, reassembling, and finally transporting them to the installation site. The Memorial is a significant addition to the National Cemetery’s landscape and is larger than surrounding monuments. Of the Memorial’s style and inspiration, Phil Gleason, Master Craftsman Studio Artist Manager, said, “We made a sleek representation of their symbolism that will harken the colors and style of the USAF aircraft.”
Located along the Cemetery’s Memorial Walk, each gleaming panel conveys a powerful sentiment fitting for the hallowed ground it rests upon. The north-facing panel is dedicated to those who have served and are still serving, including POW/MIA’s and Gold Star Families, and features the Arnold Wings. The east-facing panel displays the American Flag and USAF as painted on their aircraft, along with the year 1947, which marks when the USAF became an independent service. The south-oriented panel features the Master Craftsman’s interpretation of the USAF’s Bomb Burst Maneuver, complete with three contrails and the motto “Aim high...fly-fight-win.” Finally, the west-facing panel is inscribed with the AFA emblem, Chapter 419, Air Force Association, and the dedication date.
In addition to the Memorial’s visibility, Master Craftsman Studio considered its durability and resistance to the elements. Powder-coated aluminum was the prescribed material, which, in addition to cost-effectiveness, was selected for its durability, lightness, and minimal oxidation in a humid environment. The studio collaborated with Tallahassee Powder Coating (a division of Tallahassee Welding) for the powder coating application, protecting the aluminum material for at least 5-7 years. Finally, the Memorial is constructed with 1/4” and 3/8” with sizeable mounting brackets to secure the pieces to each other and its 3 feet by 5 feet concrete pad base.
This one-of-a-kind monument is a permanent fixture in a solemn location, providing a space for reflection and remembrance. Master Craftsman Studio is proud to be a part of this symbol of gratitude and respect for the courageous men and women who have served their country and is thankful for the partnership of AFA Chapter 419. “It has been a pleasure to work with the Master Craftsman Studio,” said AFA Chapter 419 Memorial Coordinator Captain David Wilson. “We are excited about the USAF Memorial to be placed at Tallahassee National Cemetery and look forward to working with them again.” Chapter 419 is looking to fund a POW/MIA memorial at the Tallahassee National Cemetery. Individuals interested in donating to this project are encouraged to contact Captain David Wilson (email@example.com).