Celebrating 30 years of SOMS heritage Published May 13, 2016 By Senior Airman Holly Mansfield 81st Training Wing Public Affairs This year marks the 30 year anniversary of Keesler Air Force Base hosting the Special Olympics Mississippi summer games. Al Watkins, 81st Infrastructure Division chief of operations, shared his thoughts as he reflects on his years of being a SOMS volunteer. 30 years of SOMS and Keesler heritage Since I arrived at Keesler, the relationship with our local and state communities has been great. We can count on our friends and neighbors outside the Keesler gates to stand with us as we stand with them. It demonstrates that together, the local communities and the military can conquer any task put before us! Dedicated SOMS volunteer I’ve always had a heart to help and volunteer whenever I got a chance. When I arrived here back in the 1990s, I was in the 81st Civil Engineer Squadron. I decided to give a hand and help with Special Olympics. Once I experienced the joy the summer games bring to the athletes, coaches and family members, it became very fulfilling to continue my support and service with a smile. SOMS experience When an athlete struggles in a race and another turns back to help them finish it makes my eyes fill up with tears. To see them supporting one another and to watch when they finish the race together is awesome. Benefits of volunteering The reward of lending a helping hand for those who are impaired is the greatest feeling you get inside because of your hard work and dedication. I hope the Airmen sponsors learn the gift of giving back and supporting the games is more rewarding than anything that can be bought!