KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. —
Keesler celebrated the Air Force’s 75th birthday with the Air Force Ball, Sept. 17 at the IP Casino. The event commemorated the past and present accomplishments of the Air Force while looking forward towards a future of innovation and development.
Keesler’s Air Force history dates back more than 75 years. Keesler was established in 1941 as Keesler Army Airfield, housing both a technical and basic training center.
In 1943, Keesler began training female and international students, with more than 7,000 African American Airmen stationed here. These service members included pre-aviation cadets, radio operators, aviation technicians, bombardiers and aviation mechanics.
Keesler kept pace with World War II efforts in the spring of 1944, training additional aircrew to support the demand for heavy bomber units overseas.
In September 1947, the Air Force became an independent branch of the military and Keesler was officially redesignated as an Air Force base in early 1948.
Keesler began its legacy of electronics training in early 1949 to support the needs of the rapidly growing Air Force. The base taught courses in radar, radio and electronics maintenance and repair. The base also began using television instruction methods as early as June 1953.
In early 1956, Keesler helped the Air Force in the space race by opening a ground support training program for the SM-65 Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile.
By 1960, Keesler had earned a strong reputation for technology training. Keesler has continued to stay ahead of new electronics technology by instructing students in emerging systems. At one point, Keesler’s technical school was the country’s main supplier of electronics technicians.
In the 1990s Keesler took on more training responsibility by acquiring weather forecasting courses and meteorology and precision maintenance electronics laboratory training programs. These additions cemented Keesler’s growing importance as a technical university.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Keesler’s genetics lab, the Department of Defense’s only genetics lab, played a vital role in analysis and testing for COVID-19 and aiding the research effort in finding a vaccine.
Keesler was also essential in the ongoing development of the next generation of warfighters with the implementation of basic military training to assist in the 37th Training Wing’s mission.
With the need to limit in-person contact, the 81st Training Group adapted various courses to online classrooms in addition to expanding the Learning WiFi Service with Air Education and Training Command.
Today, Keesler is the second largest Air Force technical training base, graduating more than 30,000 students in over 46 career specialties every year.
As the host of the DoD’s only initial skills weather course, Keesler prepares Airmen, Sailors, Marines, Space Force Guardians and Coastguardsmen with a broad understanding of weather and how it affects the flying missions of the Air Force and its sister services, whether they’re stationed at a weather hub that encompasses large regions or a weather flight focusing on a more concentrated area.
Keesler continues to modernize curriculums across all the career fields trained here, such as cyber. Cyber is an essential part to enhancing our multi-domain operations and using new, innovative curriculums, the Air Force can continue advancing in the ever-evolving field.
Anytime and anywhere the Air Force and its allies have needed airpower during the past 75 years, Keesler has been ready to answer the call.
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