Viewing Keesler with fresh set of eyes

  • Published
  • By Col. Jeffrey Jackson
  • 81st MIssion Support Group commander
The last two months have been a blur -- packing out at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, going-away luncheons, taking leave in Kentucky, the change of command, the chief master sergeant of the Air Force visit, the Innkeeper Award team visit and the list goes on. 

It has been a power-packed two months since I took command of the 81st Mission Support Group. As we all know, when you first arrive at a new duty location you tend to see things differently than those who've been around for a while. 

With a fresh set of eyes I'd like to tell you what I've seen in the last two months at Keesler -- hard work, great customer service and a never-quit spirit! 

When I found out I was headed for Keesler, I said, "Hallelujah!" As an Air Education and Training Command staffer for three years, I watched the entire Keesler rebuild epic unfold, and I was anxious to see the results for myself. 

My next reaction was, "What kind of shape will I find the base in?" Fortunately, I went to Keesler on a temporary assignment about a month later, and as I drove on the base, I was immediately impressed by the progress you've made and the great shape the base is in. 

As a 23-year Air Force civil engineer, the first thing I noticed was the outstanding job you have done executing an enormous military construction program while also progressing through the Air Force's largest housing rebuild project. The numbers are staggering -- you've executed nearly $1 billion in projects to include a physical plant which is now the best in the Air Force. 

While the 81st Civil Engineer Squadron gets a large part of the credit for this amazing feat, it was everyone's teamwork that made this a reality. You've endured closed roads, water main breaks, power outages and multiple housing moves, but the payoff will be amazing. Keesler is poised to be the new "Showplace of the Air Force." 

While all the new buildings will be very impressive, we all know that without a "how can I help you?" customer service attitude, even the best facilities can feel sterile. 

One of Keesler's hallmarks is great customer service. One example is the recent visit by the Air Force Innkeeper Award Evaluation Team. Keesler represented AETC in this year's competition because we're the best in the command. Our customer service spirit impressed the team who said they observed, "superior customer service in every interaction." They reported finding "many 'best seen' and 'beyond compare' programs." I want to thank the Inns of Keesler team and the entire base for outstanding support during the competition judging. 

To finish my "new set of eyes" tour, let me say I am so proud to be a part of a team which doesn't know the meaning of quit. Your hard work, customer service spirit and never-quit attitude have attracted the attention of the Air Force and the world. Everywhere I go I can see that Keesler is back -- the past is past and many scars remain, but for all practical purposes, Keesler is 100 percent up and open for Air Force business!