Back during WWII, the sight and sound of piston-engined aircraft and newly-minted Army Air Force airmen learning their paces became a fixture that has remained for over 75 years.
Keesler Field, founded in June 1941, was named after a Great War aerial observer from Mississippi who was killed over Verdun in 1918. It became both a basic training facility as well as an advanced school for gunners.
After the war, Keesler became an Air Force base and remained an advanced school for navaids and meteorology. A Biloxi institution, the base today is the home of the Air Force Reserve’s Hurricane Hunters and everyone knows people who work there. Hell, I turned down a DAF police job there once upon a time.
Fast forward to 2020, and the fresh recruits have returned.
For the first time since 1968, a flight of nearly 60 Airmen graduated USAF Basic Military Training outside of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Airmen from the 37th Training Wing Detachment 5 marched across the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, May 15.
Due to safety concerns stemming from #COVID19, the Air Force sent new recruits to Keesler AFB to demonstrate a proof of concept to generate the force at multiple locations during contingencies.
“These changes are part of our operational mindset to fight through COVID-19 and mitigate force health risks.” -Maj. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Second Air Force commander
All graduating Airmen from this flight will continue their technical training at Keesler AFB.