Keesler heritage: Spotlight on Dolan Hall

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jonathan Williams
  • 333rd Training Squadron
In the midst of the Korean War, Maj. Gen. James Powell, Keesler commander, oversaw the completion and dedication of Dolan Hall on Sept. 1, 1951. This new 100-classroom facility was quickly put to use as part of the technical training capability quickly growing in Biloxi. Ever since, Airmen en route to class walk past news articles, paintings, and pictures celebrating the life and accomplishments of Col William C. Dolan. During the dedication ceremony, Powell said, "May Dolan Hall long stand as a tribute to his achievement and serve as an inspiration for the pioneering spirit he exemplified."

Dolan Hall now hosts the 333rd Training Squadron's information technology fundamentals courses. These classes teach Airmen how to safely maintain and operate almost anything electronic or computer based. After Airmen learn the fundamentals at Dolan Hall, they move on to the 336th and 338th TRS to specialize in their career fields.

As the United States entered World War II, Dolan received classified Army Air Forces orders in 1941. His mission was to develop the tactics, techniques, and procedures needed to use airborne radar systems to find and destroy enemy U-boats. He successfully bridged the gap between the technology and actual use on the battlefield. Testing the theories himself, he led submarine hunts from New England to the West Indies protecting shipping lanes as commander of the 1st Sea-Search Attack Group.

After the allied powers gained supremacy in the Atlantic, Dolan shifted his efforts to solving targeting radar problems during high-altitude bombing runs.

Dolan also established the first radar indoctrination course for AAF officers. He taught second lieutenants through general officers the fundamentals of radar technology and how to use it on the battlefield. This tradition continues at Keesler within the 333rd TRS in undergraduate cyber training where hundreds of officers are trained annually.

Tragically, Dolan lost his life Feb. 14, 1945, during a flight over the Atlantic when his plane crashed in bad weather during a mission to deliver the latest bombing radar to the European theater of operations.

"Colonel Dolan was a real credit to our organization," said Gen. Hap Arnold, commander of the AAF, on March 28, 1945. "He was an officer of high principles and unusual ability. These qualities, coupled with extreme loyalty to the cause of his country, made his services invaluable."

Today, the thousands of Airmen going through Dolan Hall each year are trained in more than just radar. They go on to become cyber experts in many technologies including radars, radios, telephones, and computer networks. Dolan's memory lives on to inspire young leaders at Keesler to dominate the cyberspace domain.