81st Training Wing Leadership visits the University of Southern Mississippi

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Devyn Waits
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Leadership from the 81st Training Wing visited the University of Southern Mississippi, March 1.

The tour was organized as an opportunity for Keesler to continue building its academic relationship with USM, connecting to the wing’s mission of training Airmen to be competitive, educated, warfighters.

Visiting USM also facilitated the advancement of the Honorary Commander Program, a partnership formed between military commanders and local civic leaders to strengthen the base’s partnerships with the local community.

“When I was brought on to Keesler’s Honorary Commander Program, Lt. Col. Kuc mentioned that she wanted to grow Keesler’s relationship outside the installation,” said Sawyer Walters, USM development officer. “As a USM alumni and second lieutenant in the Army, I knew that our military-friendly campus provided a good opportunity for leadership of different units to see how our programs fit into their mission set.”

The tour kicked off with the main group splitting into unit-specific groups to visit different departments throughout campus.  

Dr. Lynn Soots, 81st Training Group training administrator, and 81st TRG staff began at the College of Computer Science with Chris Winstead, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, to review the cyber security courses that pertain to the unit’s own cyber curriculum and the Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense accredited curriculum for technical training. The 81st Medical Group visited the College of Nursing and Health Professions, with Laurel Story, dean of CNHP. They explored the department laboratories, interacted with students and learned about the different academic provisions USM could offer to medical Airmen. Col. Chad Gemeinhardt, 81st Mission Support Group commander, and 81st MSG staff were shown by John Becton, dean of the College of Business and Economic Development, how business students are prepared for leadership roles in corporate environments through entrepreneurial projects.

The groups reconvened to go to the Veterans Center, Quinlan-Hammond Hall where the tour concluded through introductions with the ROTC detachment command and campus vice presidents and administration before departing back to Biloxi.

“This was a great opportunity for us,” said Soots. “For an education and training environment, universities are perfect partners for Keesler. On top of learning new methods of educating our Airmen, we can better understand the communities all around Mississippi.”

Keesler touring USM reflects the importance of a connection between military installations and the surrounding communities. Establishing partnerships creates a platform of support between community members and service members, promoting mission effectiveness and interoperability between the Air Force and the society it defends.