Keesler's 81st anniversary

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Trenten Walters
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

In 81 years, Keesler Air Force Base has evolved into the leading joint training installation and the single largest employer in South Mississippi.

In 1941, Biloxi, Miss. city officials assembled an invite to the U.S. Army Corps to build a base in support of the training build up during World War II. Keesler Army Airfield was activated that year, housing and training approximately 40,000 people for technical and basic training.

After WWII, basic training at Keesler was discontinued and the base turned towards more specialized training, from aviation mechanics to a wide array of career fields.  As time went on, Keesler built a reputation for advanced technology training, offering courses in radar, communications and electronics.

Today, Keesler is the second largest Air Force technical training base, graduating more than 28,000 Airmen in over 160 career fields every year.

Keesler is where Air Force Cyber training begins for Airmen, and continues to evolve through advancements in curriculum and mutually beneficial partnerships. The educational partnership with Mississippi State University and other local colleges permits Keesler and the community to grow together by giving a cross flow of information on technology advancements, cyber techniques, and training.

Keesler hasn’t forgotten its roots in the local community, and in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit Keesler briefly adapted their mission from training to humanitarian and disaster assistance.

With training paused, members pivoted to help secure food, clean water and other supplies to those who needed it. 8,500 volunteers performed more than 600 humanitarian missions along the coast.

This year Keesler personnel volunteered over 61,000 hours in the local community. With an economic impact of around $1.3 billion, Keesler has provided over 15,000 jobs, direct and indirect, to the surrounding area.

The Keesler community has embraced a changing world while remaining connected to our mission and roots, making us ready for the future fight.