332nd TRS to stand down; training continues

  • Published
  • By Steve Hoffmann
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Friday, the legend that has come to be known as the 332nd Training Squadron will come to an end. The order has been given to stand down and the squadron will be deactivated once final approval is received from Air Staff. A ceremony will be held outside Dolan Hall at 8 a.m. to mark this historic Keesler event.

The squadron logo, guidon and other symbols that represent the 332nd TRS will be packaged and sent to the history office at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., where it will lie in a dormant state indefinitely.

Friday evening, when the lights in the classrooms and offices are turned out and the doors are locked, the 332nd TRS will be no more. If an Air Force base had the cognitive ability to dream, this might sound like a nightmare for Keesler. But on Monday morning, Keesler will yawn and rub its sleepy eyes, birds will be chirping and the lights will come back on. The instructors will unlock the doors to their classrooms and they will once again be filled with students. Everything will be as it should -- almost.

There's more to the dream. In it, Keesler saw a strange half man, half beast mascot creature with a ravenous dog riding its back. Here's the interpretation. The man was actually a Spartan representing the 333rd TRS and the beast is the Bull representing the 335th TRS. The dog was the Mad Dog representing the spirit of the 332nd TRS which will live on in the 333rd TRS and 335th TRS.

"I would describe it as a management realignment," said Lt. Col. Trevor Wall, 332nd TRS commander.

After the 332nd TRS stands down, everything it has been doing, all the training, all the courses will continue to be taught at Keesler. It's just being absorbed by the 333rd TRS and the 335th TRS. The information technology fundamentals course will go to the 333rd TRS and occupy the bottom floor of Dolan Hall. The electronic principles and precision measurement equipment laboratory apprentice courses will go to the 335th TRS which will occupy Dolan Hall's top floor.

For the most part, all the classes will be taught in the same rooms, by the same instructors teaching the same thing to the same number of students. The only visible difference will be a squadron designation that ends with a 3 or a 5 instead of a 2.

According to Colonel Wall, the rationale behind the standing down and eventual deactivation of the 332nd TRS goes back four years to the force shaping Program Budget Decision 720 which gave the Air Force the authority to reduce manpower to save money.

"That's when we started seeing some of the commander support staff going away and we lost a lot of officer billets," said Colonel Wall. "Flight commanders became double billeted with multiple flights being operated by the same commander."

So to relieve some of the resulting strain, the 332nd TRS and all of its military and civilian overhead is being repositioned in the other squadrons on base so that they'll be properly manned.

The 332nd TRS is uniquely suited to stand down and be broken apart because it feeds some of the other squadrons with students who have just learned the principles and fundamentals of Air Force technology and are ready to move on to receive more advanced training.

According to Colonel Wall, it makes sense that the 333rd TRS is getting the IT fundamentals course because it fits with the type of training it already does. It also has the expertise and the curriculum to make sure the course is properly aligned with the 338th TRS, where a lot of the IT fundamentals students go upon graduation. And the 335th TRS getting the electronic principles and precision measurement equipment laboratory apprentice courses makes sense due to its already diverse mission set.

The 332nd TRS trains roughly 7,000 students a year, and although the technology is different, it teaches some of the same principles to its students as it did in the 1940s and 50s during the days of the Cold War. The good news for Keesler is that those students will continue to be trained right here. The bad news is that it won't be done by the 332nd TRS.

"It's going to be sad," said Colonel Wall. "It's a good thing for the base as a whole, but the 332nd TRS is an ingrained part of the 81st Training Group. It's going to be a loss to the 81st TRG and to the 81st Training Wing. We have a proud heritage with good people and that camaraderie will be missed."

Colonel Wall remains at Keesler, taking command of the 338th TRS June 29 when Lt. Col. Dan Gottrich, current commander of the Dark Knights, moves on to a new assignment.