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WW2 veteran remembers a history of virtue

U.S. Air Force Col. Heather Blackwell, 81st Training Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. David Pizzuto, 81st TRW command chief, watch a C-130J Hercules conduct a fly-over in honor of Pizzuto's retirement on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 15, 2020. Pizzuto retires with 37 years of military service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Heather Blackwell, 81st Training Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. David Pizzuto, 81st TRW command chief, watch a C-130J Hercules conduct a fly-over in honor of Pizzuto's retirement on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 15, 2020. Pizzuto retires with 37 years of military service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Graduating Airmen stand in formation on the drill pad during the basic military training graduation ceremony at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 15, 2020. Nearly 60 Airmen from the 37th Training Wing Detachment 5 completed the six-week basic military training course. Due to safety concerns stemming from COVID-19, the Air Force sent new recruits to Keesler to demonstrate a proof of concept to generate the force at multiple locations during contingencies. The flight was the first to graduate BMT at Keesler since 1968. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Graduating Airmen stand in formation on the drill pad during the basic military training graduation ceremony at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 15, 2020. Nearly 60 Airmen from the 37th Training Wing Detachment 5 completed the six-week basic military training course. Due to safety concerns stemming from COVID-19, the Air Force sent new recruits to Keesler to demonstrate a proof of concept to generate the force at multiple locations during contingencies. This is the first time since 1968 that Airmen graduated from U.S. Air Force basic military training outside of Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.(U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

As former World War II veteran George Knowles watched two C-130J Hercules fly across the blue sky over Keesler Air Force Base, the memories of his service flooded back.

“The Air Force is truly great,” said Knowles. “In my time in the service, I was proud to serve and defend my country. I was reminded of the great opportunity I was given to protect the things I valued most.”

Keesler Air Force Base, formerly known as Keesler Field, has been a training location for the Air Force to produce premier war-fighters since 1941. Keesler is known for being the second-largest technical training location in the Air Force, but during the most crucial times in history, it has also been home to basic military training.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Keesler was selected to demonstrate a proof of concept to generate the force at multiple locations during contingencies. During the graduation, two C-130J Hercules belonging to the 314th Airlift Wing, Little Rock Air Force Base, Arizona, flew over the graduating flight.

The flyover was a symbol of significance to Knowles as his nephew is the commander of the 314th Airlift Wing, and he recognized the power and pride of the Air Force he remembers.
“During my time in basic training and the Army Air Corps, we were fighting for a greater cause,” said Knowles. “We were dedicated to something greater than ourselves. I, with the soldiers around me, were devoted to the war and protecting what was valuable to us. The service is an environment only some know, and it was a great experience to grow from.”

Knowles served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and graduated from Army BMT at Keesler Field in 1943. He spent 22 months training and supporting the Army in Germany throughout the last couple years of the war.

Since then, the Air Force has continued to change. Knowles believes in the direction of the Air Force and its consistent advancement.

“The Air Force has only improved and grown stronger,” said Knowles. “I was amazed when I heard Keesler was bringing back BMT. I am proud of my nephew and what the Air Force is doing to grow and overcome.”