Daughters help Kentucky Air Guardsman showcase unit pride

Story by Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Master Sgt. Joey Youdell, a pararescueman in the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, created a “unit pride” ceiling tile with his daughters, Olivia (left) and Juliet. The hand-painted tile is one of several that have been installed in The Winner’s Circle recreation center at the Kentucky Air Guard Base in Louisville, Ky. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The daughters of a Kentucky Air National Guardsman have put their artistic talents to use by helping showcase unit pride.

Master Sgt. Joey Youdell and his daughters, Olivia and Juliet, painted a ceiling tile depicting the heraldry of his unit, the Louisville-based 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.

The tile was then installed in the ceiling of The Winner’s Circle, a Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center here. It joins ceiling tiles from other subordinate units assigned to the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing.

“Our leadership wanted to create something that would represent the spirit of the Special Tactics Squadron, and I thought it would be a great project to do with my daughters,” said Youdell, a pararescueman who has deployed overseas multiple times.

Youdell’s daughters painted a base coat on the tile, which soaked up a lot of pigment due to its porous nature and multiple perforations, while Youdell worked on the main art.

“The girls did a great job filling in all the holes with paint,” he said. “It took a long time, but we had a lot of fun doing it.”

Daughters help create cieling art to depict 123rd Special Tactics Squadron mission

Master Sgt. Joey Youdell, a pararescueman in the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, installs a custom-painted ceiling tile in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 21, 2013. The facility features ceiling tiles depicting the missions of various units on base. Youdell painted the tile with the help of his daughters, Juliet and Olivia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

The unit’s heraldry features a Pegasus surrounded by a life buoy and suspended by a ram-air parachute.

“The parachute is significant to the unit as a primary means of worldwide deployment, indicating that all special tactics squadron operators are airborne qualified,” according to the Pentagon’s Institute of Heraldry.

“The Pegasus symbolizes genius and inspiration and also represents the unit’s amalgamation of the ground and air elements, which is key to the mission.”

The 123rd Special Tactics Squadron is comprised of pararescuemen like Youdell, combat controllers and special operations weathermen.

Pararescuemen are parachute-jump qualified trauma specialists who must maintain emergency medical technician-paramedic credentials throughout their careers. With this medical and rescue expertise, PJs are able to perform life-saving missions in the world’s most remote areas. A PJ’s primary function is personnel recovery specialist, providing emergency medical capabilities in humanitarian and combat environments. PJs deploy in any available manner, including air-land-sea tactics, into restricted environments to authenticate, extract, treat, stabilize and evacuate injured personnel.

Combat controllers are among the most highly trained personnel in the U.S. military. As FAA-certified air traffic controllers, they deploy undetected into combat and hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, fire support, command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance.

Special operations weathermen are meteorologists with advanced tactical training to operate in hostile or denied territory. They gather and interpret weather data and provide intelligence from deployed locations while working primarily with Air Force and Army Special Operations Forces.

The unit’s slogan, “Ingenium Superat Vires,” means “Genius Overcomes Strength.”

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