MANSFIELD, La. (KSLA) - There’s a little piece of Barksdale Air Force Base all the way out in Mansfield. If you’re heading into town from Highway 171, you just can’t miss it.
The ‘it’ is a brand new mural of a B-52 Bomber.
“It’s exciting and it’s one of the first things you see coming into town," said Fran Norwood.
Norwood is part of Mansfield in Motion, a group tasked with finding ways to enhance downtown. “When I was 16, I worked here and this little town was just thriving," she said.
Mansfield in Motion soon approached Fran’s husband, Bryan Norwood, with ideas about a mural. Bryan is the local post commander of the VFW Post 4586 in Mansfield who gifted $10,000 to the organization to help pay for the mural.
“They presented ideas to us and one of our members stepped up and said a B-52 would be appropriate and fitting for the area,” he said.
All they needed now was someone to create this mural, and that’s where Matthew Yerby comes in.
“The plane was actually facing the other way for the first design I came up with," he said. "I decided no we have to do a different plane so I changed it last minute and I free handed the whole thing.”
That’s right, the entire design was free handed on the 30 by 90 foot long building, and it only took Yerby 16 days to complete.
“This was probably my favorite piece ever just because my family is military, he said. “My brother is a United States Army Ranger and I’m very familiar with the Barksdale Air Force. Of course if you’re going to paint something huge, the B-52 Bomber is what you want.”
There are hidden gems deep within the mural. You’ll have to get a closer look to see, but everyone involved agrees this mural is just the start of bringing life back to downtown Mansfield.
“Anything we can do to enhance the first impression," said Norwood. "That will make a difference as people come through and want to find a place here.”
Yerby currently lives in Los Angeles, California and flew back home to Mansfield in December to finish this mural.
Mansfield in Motion currently is working with Yerby to have him create another mural in downtown Mansfield this summer.