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What's in a name: Welch Auditorium

The Welch Auditorium was dedicated to Tech. Sgt. E.J. Welch, Jr., a flight engineer from Harrisville, Mississippi. Welch demonstrated professional skill, airmanship and devotion to duty while engaged in resupply actions to a special forces camp in hostile conflict with an armed enemy in Southeast Asia.(U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Teddy Barbosa)

The Welch Auditorium was dedicated to Tech. Sgt. E.J. Welch, Jr., a flight engineer from Harrisville, Mississippi. Welch demonstrated professional skill, airmanship and devotion to duty while engaged in resupply actions to a special forces camp in hostile conflict with an armed enemy in Southeast Asia.(U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Teddy Barbosa)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

E.J. Welch Jr.,

Technical Sergeant, USAF, 1936-1969

Tech. Sgt. E.J. Welch, Jr. enlisted in the Mississippi National Guard, Oct. 3, 1955, and was honorably discharged from the National Guard, Dec. 19, 1956. The following day, he enlisted in the United States Air Force.

Upon completion of basic training, Welch received technical training as a jet aircraft mechanic in preparation for what would turn out to be a distinguished career.

From December 1958 through July 1964, Welch worked as an aircraft mechanic at Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB), S.D. and Sheppard AFB, Texas while assigned to the Strategic Air Command. Later, in March 1967, he was selected for reassignment as a flight engineer in the Military Airlift Command.

Assigned to the 41st Military Airlift Squadron, Charleston AFB, S.C., Welch flew for two years as a crewmember on the Air Force’s newest airlift aircraft, the C-141 Starlifter, and was then notified in 1969 he’d been selected for reassignment to the 459th Tactical Airlift Squadron, Republic of Vietnam. On his sixth in-country combat mission, Welch’s aircraft was hit by hostile ground fire during a tactical resupply mission, and crashed roughly a mile and a half from Tien Phoue Air Base, Vietnam. He was killed Dec. 26, 1969.

Welch received numerous awards and decorations throughout his career, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal with two bronze loops, Air Force Good Conduct Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Vietnam Service Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Welch Auditorium is located on Galaxy St. Bldg. 7408. It offers showings Fridays through Sundays. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for children. For 3D showings, adult tickets are $8 and children $6. Doors open 30 minutes before show times. Click the following link for the latest information on what’s playing: http://www.aafes.com/exchange-stores/Movie-Guide/showtimes-Keesler-AFB.htm