Thunder on the Bay rolls: Showcasing our rebuilding, renewing, reloading

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Greg Touhill
  • 81st Trianing Wing commander
It is Air Show Week! After a five-year hiatus, Keesler welcomes the community back with what promises to be the best air show we've ever hosted. 

Featuring the Air Force Thunderbirds, the "Thunder on the Bay" Air Show is our capstone event celebrating our ongoing mission of Rebuilding, Renewing and Reloading. 

Here at Keesler, rebuilding is more than the construction that continues around our base. Rather, we're also rebuilding the processes, precision and pride that made our Air Force great. Our team has worked for months preparing for this air show, creating a plan that encompasses all aspects of the air show. 

Details such as air operations, safety, refueling, fire protection, security, medical, communications, and finances are all a part of the plan. Checklists for contingencies have been created and rehearsed repeatedly to ensure our Airmen are prepared to host you safely and securely while showcasing the excitement of the nation's aviation capabilities. 

Thunder on the Bay renews our ties with the community by attracting our fellow citizens from around the neighborhood as well as around the country to Keesler. We hope that our visitors from out of town will enjoy the hospitality of the Mississippi Gulf Coast by staying in local hotels, patronizing local businesses, and enjoying our local restaurants. No matter where we came from, from around the country or around the world, Keesler and the Mississippi Gulf Coast is now our home and we're proud to show it off! 

Finally, the air show helps us fulfill our mission of reloading the Air Force with mission-ready Airmen. 

Last year, Keesler graduated over 27,000 Airmen from its 391 courses supporting 38 different military specialties. Our training has worldwide impact as our graduates serve in every continent and in every operation around the globe. Recall the plan I mentioned? An essential part of training the next generation of Airmen to meet any and all tasks the nation assigns to us includes teaching them how to create and execute plans with precision. Our team is ready! As our visitors tour the base and see our great Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines, I am confident they will be impressed by the high caliber of people proudly wearing the uniforms of our nation. 

The conclusion of this Air Show Week will be bittersweet for the Touhill family. On Monday, I will bid farewell to the 81st Training Wing and Keesler as I transition to my new assignment as the Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation, U.S. Embassy, Kuwait City, Kuwait. While it is a big job in a strategic location during a historic period of time, it will be hard to best my current position. 

Being the wing commander at Keesler is a big job in a strategic location during a historic period as well. 

During my tenure I have been renewed by the strength and resiliency of the people of the base and Mississippi Gulf Coast. I have been blessed to be a part of a community that asked for a hand up, not a hand out, and proved it has the mettle to soar and excel. Hurricane Katrina was indeed a horrible occurrence, yet it marks a point on a calendar; it does not define this great community or its people. 

We've banded together, Keesler and the Mississippi Gulf Coast community, to bring our home back, bigger and better than ever! Thunder on the Bay is our opportunity to celebrate! On behalf of Charlene and our children, I'd like to thank you for welcoming us back to Keesler and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We've been blessed to serve with you and look forward to being with you again soon. 

Enjoy the show!