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Combat Art Articles

Lt. Col. Warren Neary

  • Published

Pic of Lt. Col. Neary painting
Chief of Combat Art and Outreach 

Lieutenant Col. Warren F. Neary serves as the Chief and artist in the Heritage and Combat Art Division for Air Force Reserve Command’s Office of History and Heritage, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. His team visually documents the history of Reserve Citizen Airmen and their culture in Total Force, joint and coalition operations around the world through artwork and publications. His efforts preserve the Air Force Reserve’s rich history in order to inform and inspire current and future generations. 

Neary was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  With the encouragement of his parents, he grew up drawing and painting from elementary through high school.  Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting, Neary obtained his commission through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training program in 1998.  He served as a communications officer and later in public affairs in 2001 before transitioning to the Air Force Reserve in 2006 where he served as a historian and artist. Here, he focused primarily on space and intercontinental ballistic missile mission-related subjects for Air Force Space Command.

His heritage and combat related body of work started in 2000 with the creation of a painting highlighting the B-2 Spirit bomber along with past missions of Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri that the Air Force Art Program accepted into the collection in 2001.  While serving as the Deputy Public Affairs Officer for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he created a painting capturing detention operations that the Army Center for Military History accessioned into their art collection.  While serving on active duty and as a historian and artist with Air Force Space Command, Neary visually documented various missions and events including the deactivation of the Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile mission, Hurricane Katrina disaster response operations, GPS and WGS satellite, Air Force Satellite Control Network, and space lift missions along with the ICBM strategic mission when it resided within Air Force Space Command.  While assigned to Air Force Reserve Command, he captured Reserve Citizen Airmen in various stories and missions including the rescue of lone survivor Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, F-22 Raptor combat air patrol in the Arabian Gulf, medevac of combat controller Tech. Sgt. Zach Ryner, Air Force Reserve support of the B-52 nuclear mission and undergraduate pilot training, and a posthumous operational portrait of Medal of Honor Recipient Master Sgt. John Chapman, a combat controller killed while protecting his team during Operation Anaconda, Afghanistan. 

Outside of his combat and heritage artwork for the Air Force Reserve, Neary also paints figures, landscapes, cityscapes and still life subjects. 

“It is an honor to use my skill as a historian and artist to visually capture the history of our Reserve Citizen Airmen and see the impact that artwork provides to inform and build esprit de corps,” said Neary.  “Airmen see the artwork and recognize the importance of their service to our nation, and it ties them personally to the legacy and culture of the Air Force Reserve.  It is extremely rewarding to see and hear how the artwork resonates with Airmen and their families, Gold Star families, veterans, community members and business and government leaders along with coalition partners.”

Neary has received national-level recognition and awards and his artwork has been exhibited in the National Museum of the Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the Museum of Aviation, Warner Robins, Georgia, and his paintings are included in the U.S. Air Force Art Collection and the U.S. Army Center for Military History in addition to private collections.