Keesler welcomes installation excellence team

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KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. - Thursday, Keesler welcomes the selection board for the Commander-in-Chief's Installation Excellence Award.

Keesler is one of two Air Force bases being considered for the award, which includes $1 million for quality of life improvements. The presidential honor was established in 1984 to recognize the outstanding efforts of people who operate and maintain Defense Department installations and effectively use their resources to support the mission. McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., the other Air Force nominee, was judged last week.

The selection team is headed by the Air Force Civil Engineer from the Pentagon, Maj. Gen. Timothy Byers. The general is responsible for installation support functions at 166 Air Force bases worldwide with an annual budget of more than $12 billion.

Other team members are Cols. Andrew Gebara, commander of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, La.; John Kubinec, commander of the 377th Air Base Wing, Kirtland AFB, N.M., and Albert "Buck" Elton II, commander of the 27th Special Operations Wing, Cannon A.F.B, N.M.

The team arrives late today and the selection process kicks off Thursday with a Mardi Gras-themed breakfast with Keesler leaders and community partners. An in-depth evaluation of base operations continues through Friday.

It's the second consecutive year that Keesler has been nominated by Air Education and Training Command for the honor. The base placed third in the Air Force in last year's competition.

"Keesler's leaders and personnel have created an environment promoting innovation and pride in ownership to enhance base-level services, facilities, and quality of life," said Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., AETC commander, in nominating Keesler.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Wright, 81st Mission Support Group deputy commander, is Keesler's project officer for the visit.

"It's not because of a single area that Keesler stands out," Wright said. "Keesler is simply incredibly focused on the mission, whether it's technical training, Keesler Hospital, the weather reconnaissance and tactical airlift operations or tenant unit undertakings. Relentlessly, Team Keesler members come up with innovative processes to support our missions efficiently, effectively and economically."