Keesler Air Force Base is located in Biloxi, Mississippi right on the Gulf Coast. It is named after aviator 2d Lt Samuel Reeves Keesler, Jr., a native of Mississippi who was killed in action in France during WWI. The base opened in 1941 and has specialized in ground training since its inception. At the time the construction of the Base was underway, it was the most expensive government project to be undertaken by the State of Mississippi.
Keesler Field was activated in June, 1941. It quickly became a technical training center as well as one of the Army’s newest basic training center. The first recruits arrived in August of that same year, and many stayed at the Base, later becoming airplane and engine mechanics. Other recruits became gunnery or aviation cadets. In 1943, more than 7,000 Black soldiers of the Tuskegee Airmen were stationed at Keesler. Some of these soldiers became aviation technicians and radio operators.
The 81st Training Wing of the Base is the electronics training Center of Excellence for the U.S. Air Force. In total, Keesler’s training center handles over 28,000 students each year, offering 400 courses that cover nearly 40 different career fields. Keesler Base trains Air Force as well as Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and more military and civilian federal agency personnel.
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