Central Texas Heroes: Von Otto, part 2

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Von Otto spent his years in the Air Force maintaining aircraft weapons systems, but he also added some extra color to a world of Air Force blue.

Veteran Von Otto

"Every duty station I was at everybody wanted this painted in the break room or the NCO Club or the Enlisted Club," he said, "just before I got out, one of the guys said, when you get out you need to buy an airbrush."

He ended up back in Gulf Shores, Alabama where he grew up.

"After Vietnam, there weren't too many people hiring," he said, "I finally got a job scraping barnacles off of boats."

But he remembered his friend's advice, went to the local mall, and found an airbrush artist

"He sold me an airbrush but wouldn't show me how to use it," Von recalled, "so I just sat down and started teaching myself how to do it," he said.

Von ended up working for the man and fine tuned his skills in Gulf Shores for ten years.

Before he knew it he was landing contracts with trucking companies in Texas.

Word of his skills traveled and he even rubbed shoulders with some celebrities, painting trailers for Evil Knievel for his Snake River Canyon jump, and the Caesar's Palace jump.

And that's not all.

"I've done stuf for the Air Force Thunderbirds, I did a coffee table that's there until this day," Von told us.

And one of his works is considered a national treasure.

He created art that is on the nose of a plane hanging in the Smithsonian.

You can find the Carol Jean in the Udvar-Hazy Center, a companion center to the National Air and Space Museum.

But what Von loves most is using his skills to help others, creating artwork to be sold at auctions for VFW chapters, American Legion chapters, and other organizations and causes dear to his heart.

And he wants to send a message to all who've served: they are honored and not forgotten.

"When I was in during the last part of Vietnam, we were treated like crap, people threw bottles at us, cussed at us, spit on us. I feel like I can do something for the Vietnam guys and the Korean War vets and make them feel welcome they came home," he said, "if it just helps one person that's fantastic, if helps more than even better, and it just helps me. That's my icing on the cake."