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The War Department activated Army Air Corps Station No. 8, Aviation Mechanics School, Biloxi, Mississippi, on 12 June 1941. City officials wanted the base named after a notable figure in the local area's history, but War Department policy was to name installations after service members killed in action. In late June, Mayor Braun received word that the new school would be named in honor of 2d Lt Samuel Reeves Keesler, Jr., of Greenwood, Mississippi. Lieutenant Keesler died of wounds during WW I while serving in France as an aerial observer, 24th Aero Squadron, U.S. Army Air Service. On 25 August 1941, Army Air Corps Station No. 8 was officially designated as Keesler Army Airfield. 
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