Security officer recognized for his many talents www.privateofficer.com
Robert Steele makes his mark on the people of Vance Air Force Base nearly every day in the course of his job as a gate security guard.
But he already has made a large mark on the base, many large marks, in fact, and colorful ones, as well.
Steele, who has worked at Vance for nearly 18 months, is an artist who has paintings hanging in various places around the base.
A couple of decades ago he painted the mural in the office of the director of operations for the 25th Flying Training Squadron. More recently he did a painting for the office of Maj. L. Michelle Stringer, commander of Vance’s 71st Security Forces Squadron.
‘My mother, sister, grandfather, were all artists,” said Steele.
Before taking the job at Vance, Steele’s career centered around art. After spending a year fighting in Vietnam with the Army’s 23rd Infantry Division, Steele attended Phillips University on the GI Bill, earning an art degree.
Most of his career was spent in printing and advertising, but he did have a stint helping disabled people find jobs, before going to work at Vance.
His connection with the base goes back many years, however.
Steele used to sell his paintings and hand-painted T-shirts during craft shows on base. The work he did for the 25th FTS “drove my family crazy because I had this 4-by-8 board in my living room painting on it for however long.”
He helped design helmet stickers and patches for pilot training classes.
Prior to last year’s unit compliance inspection at Vance, Steele suggested doing some sort of painting to dress up the 71st Security Forces Squadron offices.
“The major (Stringer) hired me to do a big one that is setting in her office now,” Steele said. “Then I did one for our office (the gate section) down the hall.”
The word about Steele’s artistic talents spread and he wound up doing several portraits of the children of Vance personnel.
“I do just about any kind of painting,” Steele said. “I like to paint airplanes. I’ve done a bunch of airplane paintings through the years.
“My love is doing hot rods, motorcycles, portraits of my grandkids or anything that just kind of strikes my fancy.”
Steele works mostly in acrylics, but in the style of an oil painting, colored pencils or graphite.
He said he long ago resigned himself to the fact he wouldn’t make much of a living as an artist in Enid, but made up his mind a large city was no place to raise a family.
His latest job is a far cry from advertising or being an illustrator, but he enjoys it just the same.
“I really like it because I get to meet people constantly,” he said. “In advertising or art you are basically all by yourself in a room, painting. I’ve always liked dealing with the public.”
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