Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Face of Defense: Airman Crafts Art Out of Fruit

By Air Force Airman 1st Class William Tracy, 50th Space Wing

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Leaning over a table with a sanding mask on, Air Force Capt. Ramon Rosario, the executive officer for the 4th Space Operations Squadron here, smooths the edges of a coaster with a cornucopia of fruit laid out in front of him like a Thanksgiving dinner.

“Strawberries are the hardest to dry the way you want them,” Rosario said through his mask, eyes fixed on the coaster. “They retain too much moisture and are hard to shape the right way.”

One may ask what strawberries and coasters have in common. For Rosario, the question is: What more can he do with both to make art?

At home, Rosario finds time to engage in his passion -- using dried fruits as artistic centerpieces for his own creations, whose creations span from coasters and earrings to necklaces, tie pins and lampshades.

‘I Enjoy Everything About the Process’

“I enjoy everything about the process,” he said. “From the idea to the final result.”

Rosario, a self-described chef, said he loves to experiment in the kitchen.

“One day, I was candying oranges,” he recalled. “And when I finished, I thought the oranges looked absolutely stunning in contrast to the bright white color of the serving plate. It was then I thought ‘I could do something with this.’”

Rosario soon graduated from small citrus fruits to larger, more ambitious projects.

“It was a lot of trial and error, but I just kept going,” he said.

His process begins at the grocery store, where he hand-selects fruits he feels would be optimal for his creations.

At home, Rosario cuts the fruit, often in thin slices. He then dries the cut fruit as he prepares an adhesive residue -- a delicate process which involves a precise mixture of various components within a limited window of time.

For most of his creations, once the adhesive resin is prepared, he dips the dried fruit into it, coating it in a preservative which helps retain color while giving the fruit a gleam.

Air Force Values

The end result is a preserved dried fruit Rosario uses for whatever artistic purpose he desires. He said the overall process requires attention to detail, focus and discipline -- traits he credits to the values he has learned while serving in the Air Force.

“Joining the Air Force has significantly helped guide my unstructured side,” he said. “Everything I learned in the Air Force applies to my craft.”

Air Force 2nd Lt. Alexandra Mangueira, a satellite engineer with 4th SOPS, who has known Rosario for more than two years, said she was intrigued when she learned of his hobby, but was not surprised given his artistic personality and work ethic.
fruit hobby craft art
Air Force Capt. Ramon Rosario, executive officer with the 4th Space Operations Squadron, clips the edges of a dried orange at his home in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sept. 17, 2018. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Tracy

“He is definitely very unique, loyal and reliable,” she said. “You can tell the work he does here at 4th SOPS reflects in his craftsmanship -- it’s detail-oriented and organized.”

While Rosario said his art is a reflection of his work with 4th SOPS and his service in general, he added engaging in a personal passion away from the workplace helps him become a better airman.

“This helps round myself out,” he said. “I come home after a long day at work pushing papers, going to and scheduling meetings, and I come back to this and it puts me at peace, clearing my mind for the next day.”

He encourages airmen to find time to engage in their own passions outside of their work life in order to build their resiliency.

“You need something like this, as we often get all caught up in the day-to-day work and it helps to have a hobby you love,” he said.

“Mangueira said she looks forward to seeing where Rosario’s talent will lead.

“While we each serve under the same core values, it is our diversity which gives us strength,” she said.

Mattis Tells VMI Cadets That War Will be Their Roughest Auditor

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The roughest auditor that the young cadets of the Virginia Military Institute will face is war, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said in Lexington, Virginia, yesterday.

War will test the young cadets’ character, intellect and physical fitness, the secretary said.

“This institution was actually established to develop the professional qualities and the character to meet that auditor … and all of his challengers that he aligned with them on a battlefield, [so] you could meet those challenges without confusion or hesitation when our country needed you,” Mattis said at the storied institute.

VMI has a long and distinguished history. It was founded in 1839 as the first state military institute in America. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was an instructor at the school before the Civil War and the Corps of Cadets fought at the Battle of New Market in 1864. Its most distinguished graduate was General of the Army George C. Marshall, the architect of victory in World War II, and the author of what came to be known as the Marshall Plan, which provided aid to the war-ravaged parts of Western Europe following the war.

VMI cadets have many great examples to follow, Mattis said. “You're going to be expected to carry on that legacy,” he said, and while many in the school will not serve in the U.S. military, many will.

The secretary told the cadets that America is “emerging from a period of strategic atrophy.”

America Responds to Security Challenges

“We've written up a National Defense Strategy and we've answered the challenges as we've defined them,” he said.

These challenges call for three lines of effort, he said. Increasing the lethality of the military is the first line. The second line of effort is strengthening existing alliances and building new ones. The third is to ensure DoD is a good steward of taxpayers’ money.

“VMI has got a key part … in driving progress along the lines of effort like this, because we need sharp young people going into the professions in America, and certainly into the military as well,” Mattis said.

The secretary told the cadets who choose to enter the military that they will be tested in ways that others of their generation will never know. “You will come to know someday and to understand what a privilege it is to be given such tests,” he said.

They will learn about their moral and ethical selves, the secretary said. “For those of you [who] will have seen the moonrise on the far side of the world, you're going to get some very privileged glimpses into the human heart, as one noted author put it,” Mattis said. “I want you to remember, you only have to win one battle, but it's one you have to win every day. And that one battle is for the hearts and minds and the trust and affections of the young men and women who are going to be serving alongside you that you outrank, but you're very, very close to.

Seminar Looks at Near East, South Asia Nontraditional Threats

FORT LESLEY J. MCNAIR, D.C. -- Officials and experts from around the Near East and South Asia gathered here to look at the security challenges in the region, National Defense University officials said.

More than 40 participants discussed nontraditional security challenges at an executive seminar sponsored by the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. The seminar ran Sept. 10-21.

The participants heard from a variety of speakers, including retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency; Lt. Gen. Michael X. Garrett, the commander of U.S. Army Central; and Dan Brouillette, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Discussion Topics

The participants discussed the coalition dedicated to the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the problems posed by Iran, increasing security cooperation and intelligence sharing. They also discussed threats arising from cyber warfare, weapons of mass destruction and energy security.

The executive seminars are the flagship events in the center’s annual set of 22 specialized programs. They provide a collaborative space for policymakers from the Near East-South Asia region to discuss geopolitical issues and cultivate relations with each other and the United States, officials said.
Participants in the seminar included representatives from Egypt, India, Iraq, Israel, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.