We salute this Marine tiltrotor squadron for rocking this sweet ‘Endless Summer’ tail art

Surfs up, Marine aviators!

As longtime readers know, we here at Task & Purpose are big fans of unusual military paint jobs of all shapes and sizes, and the tail art for Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 does not disappoint.

Photos recently published to the Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS) earlier this month show Marines from VMM-268 operating an MV-22 Osprey (register number 168322) with some distinctive tail paint during a maximum aircraft launch exercise over the island of Oahu, Hawaii on Dec. 2, 2020.

VMM-268 conducted the training, which saw the squadron launch eight Ospreys in quick succession, “in order to showcase their ability to fly with a large amount of aircraft and increase combat readiness,” according to the Marine Corps.

U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (VMM-268) hoist an RQ-21 Blackjack system belonging to Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 (VMU-3) from Marine Corps Base Hawaii to Marine Corps Training Area Bellows for an aerial insertion exercise, Aug. 5, 2020.
U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (VMM-268) hoist an RQ-21 Blackjack system belonging to Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 (VMU-3) from Marine Corps Base Hawaii to Marine Corps Training Area Bellows for an aerial insertion exercise, Aug. 5, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Eric Tso)

The tail paint on this particular Osprey, which features the silhouette of two surfers and an Osprey painted against a brilliant sunset, was inspired by the poster art for The Endless Summer II, the 1994 sequel to the beloved 1966 surfer classic The Endless Summer, according to 1st Lt. Bridget Glynn, a spokeswoman for the III Marine Expeditionary Force.

We salute this Marine tiltrotor squadron for rocking this sweet ‘Endless Summer’ tail art

According to Glynn, this unique tail art in the photo was painted in early 2019 by Shayne Meder, an Air Force veteran who for the last several years has transformed various U.S. military aircraft a canvas for her imaginative paint jobs.

“The previous VMM-268 commanding officer came up with the design,” Glynn told Task & Purpose, noting that the Osprey’s previous tail art also contained a silhouette of the two surfers from the Endless Summer II.

Indeed, earlier photos of the same aircraft from 2018 show the shadows of the two surfers as well as that of the state of Hawaii.

The MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin.  (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Kayla Rivera)
The MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Kayla Rivera)

Despite the recent addition of the more colorful tail paint and it’s departure from the standard “Red Dragons” that correspond with VMM-268’s nickname, the Endless Summer motif is not a new fixture to the squadron’s arsenal of fantastic paint jobs.

According to Glynn, this design actually originated during Operation Desert Storm in 1990 after the squadron — operating at the time as Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (HMM-268) — had its deployment continually extended.

HMM-268 spent Desert Storm providing combat assault support to the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, including the tactical insertion of Marines along the Saudi Arabian-Kuwaiti border during the outset of the U.S. military ground offensive in the conflict.

Today’s tail art on the particular Osprey featured in the recent DVIDS photos “has the addition of the Lanikai ‘Mokes’ to demonstrate for our location here in Hawaii and our connection to the community,” Glynn told Task & Purpose.

Here’s to you, Marines of VMM-268, for your creativity and spunk. There’s a reason your motto is “just real players.”

Jared Keller

Jared Kelleris the executive editor of Task & Purpose. His writing has appeared in Aeon, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian, and The Washington Post, among other publications. Contact the author here.

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