Keesler -- 70 years of training, caring, innovating

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Andrew Mueller
  • 81st Training Wing commander
This year marks 70 years of continuous technical training operations here at Keesler Air Force Base. In August 1941, the first Army Air Corps recruits arrived to newly-designated Keesler Field . Four weeks later, technical training began in the 301st, 302nd and 304th Technical School Squadrons.

By 1949, the base was widely known as the electronic technical training center of the Air Force, hosting training courses in specialized electronics such as radar and shortwave radios ,
as well as other skill sets including metrology and air traffic control.

In 1951, a $44 million improvement brought several new facilities to the base, including a 350-bed hospital and two-story academic buildings, later named Allee, Dolan and Wolfe Halls, that are still in use today.

Seventy years later, Team Keesler is still recognized for excellence in its technical training mission. However, how we do our mission today and the facilities we have to support this mission are a product of our 70 years of heritage in many ways. Within this heritage there are several enduring themes which still resonate today.

Training --Without a doubt, training is the foundation of our heritage. Since 1941, more than 2 million students have graduated from technical training courses taught at Keesler and earned initial qualifications in a variety of skill sets. You can be certain that providing relevant technical training is as important to the Air Force mission today as it was in 1948, when the 3380th Technical Training Wing was activated with Major Gen. Charles Lawrence in command. The standards we set and the examples we provide serve as lasting examples for every Airman we train throughout their Air Force careers.

Caring --Since 1939, when the citizens of Biloxi donated the land, including the city airport, to build a technical training school on the Gulf Coast, taking care of our Airmen has been a dominant theme in our base heritage and our community partnership with the City of Biloxi. As early as 1949, the Air Force invested almost $7 million dollars to build more than 800 homes for Keesler families. In 1973, the base was a key participant in Operation Homecoming, hosting Airmen returning home from Vietnam after several years of captivity as prisoners of war. From the hospital to the flight line, taking care of our Airmen is a cornerstone of our heritage.

Innovating -- Bringing the newest and latest technology into the classroom and into the Air Force has been a mainstay in our heritage. For example, in 1962, Keesler was the first technical training center to introduce television technology into the classroom. In 1979, the Air Force took action to consolidate all computer programmer and operator training at Keesler. In 2010, the 81st Training Group launched undergraduate cyber training, bringing the newest cyberspace domain into the technical training curriculum.

Since 1941, Keesler has earned and maintained a reputation as a top technical training center in our Air Force, a reputation we proudly maintain today. Respect the 70 years of heritage which makes Keesler what it is today and take pride in your contribution to our rich heritage of training, caring and innovating. Train to fight, train to win.