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Keesler Air Force Base

From Academic Kids

Keesler Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located in Biloxi, Mississippi. The base is home of the 81st Training Wing, and the base is responsible for training airmen who have just completed basic training as well as additional training they will need for upcoming assignments. On average, Keesler has 4,700 students on base at a time. Much of the training they receive is in the field of electronics, such as wideband maintenance, ground radio, and crypto.

The 81st Medical Group is also located at the base, and operates the second largest medical center in the Air Force.

Other groups assigned to Keesler AFB include the Air Force Reserve Command's 403rd Wing, which provides airlift support as well as serving as parent to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (aka "Hurricane Hunters").


History

In early January 1941, Biloxi city officials assembled a formal offer to invite the United States Army to build a base to support the World War II training buildup. The War Department activated Army Air Corps Station No. 8, Aviation Mechanics School, Biloxi, Mississippi, on 12 June 1941. The base was named in honor of 2d Lt Samuel Reeves Keesler,

When the War Department activated Keesler Field in June 1941, not only was Keesler getting a technical training center, but it would getting one of the Army's newest replacement, or basic training centers. The first shipment of recruits arrived at Keesler Field on 21 August 1941. Many stayed at Keesler to become airplane and engine mechanics, while others transferred to aerial gunnery or aviation cadet schools.

The Tuskegee Airmen and were trained at Keesler. In fact, more than 7,000 Black soliders were stationed at Keesler Field by the autumn of 1943. These soldiers included pre-aviation cadets, radio operators, aviation technicians, bombardiers, and aviation mechanics.

Keesler continued to focus upon specialized training in B-24 maintenance until mid-1944. Thereafter, the base was directed to expand its mechanics training curriculums to include other aircraft.

By September 1944, the number of recruits had dropped, but the workload remained constant, as Keesler personnel began processing veteran ground troops and combat crews who had returned from duty overseas for additional training and follow on assignments. Basic training wound down drastically after the end of World War II, and it was finally discontinued at Keesler on 30 June 1946.

In late May 1947, the Radar School arrived on Keesler making it responsible for operating the two largest military technical schools in the United States. Thereafter, shrinking budgets forced the base to reduce its operating costs: the Airplane and Engine Mechanics School and the Radar School were consolidated on 1 April 1948.

In early 1949, the Radio Operations School traansfered to Keesler from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. In addition to training radio operators, Keesler was to begin teaching air traffic service technicians; aircraft approach controllers, ground radar mechanics, and radar repairman/ground controlled approach specialists. The last mechanics training courses had moved to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, by November.

In early 1956, Keesler entered the missile age by opening a ground support training program for the Atlas missile. In 1958, all control tower operator, radio maintenance, a n d general radio operator courses came to be under Keesler's already broad technical training roof.

During the early l960s, Keesler lost many of its airborne training courses, but Keesler still remained the largest training base throughout the 1970s.

Keesler's student load dropped to an all-time low after the Vietnam War ended. As a result, Air Training Command inactivated the USAF School of Applied Aerospace Sciences on 1 April 1977 and replaced it with the 3300th Technical Training Wing, which activated the same day.

During the early l980s Keesler's air traffic control program garnered publicity - when the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization walked off the job in August 1981. When President Ronald Reagan fired the strikers, Keesler-trained military air traffic controllers were used for to direct some of the nation's air traffic.

Driven by deep defense budget cuts, base closure forcing an end to technical training at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois, and Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado. Keesler acquired Chanute's weather forecasting courses. Lowry's metrology and precision maintenance electronics laboratory training program from 1992-1993.

Massive restructuring of the Air Force in the early 1990s meant several changes for Keesler associate units. The first occurred when the 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (known throughout the Gulf region as the Hurricane Hunters) was inactivated and transferred to the reserves on 30 June 1991.

Yet another major change occurred on 1 July 1993, when Keesler Training Center inactivated. At the same Air Training Command was redesignated the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), and the command activated Second Air Force and stationed it at Keesler. Its mission was to oversee all technical training conducted within AETC.

Keesler AFB is one of the largest technical training wings in the United States Air Force, and in Air Education and Training Command (AETC).

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