In 1941, city officials in Biloxi created a formal offer to invite the US Army Corps to build a military base there in support of the buildup for World War II training.
It was initially named Army Air Corps Station No.8 and later designated as Keesler Army Airfield.
The base is named in honor of 2nd Lt. Samuel Reeves Keesler Jr. who was a native of Greenwood, Mississippi that died of wounds while serving as an aerial observer in France during World War I.
Keesler Air Force Base is currently houses of the largest technical training centers in the US Air Force. The training center offers 500 courses and handles 40,000 students year-round. It is responsible for not only training Air Force personnel, but also students from other military branches as well as other civilian federal agencies.
Thousands of personnel train in specialized skills that range from computer systems, air traffic control, avionics maintenance, radio and radar systems maintenance, and many other technical specialties. It is also responsible for training pilots in C-21 aircraft as well as medical specialties for doctors, technicians, and nurses.
There is a wide variety of amenities offered in Biloxi that include beaches near the Gulf of Mexico, restaurants, live entertainment, churches, parks, and several events that families can enjoy throughout the year. Biloxi has been a favorite destination for tourists flock to every year because the waters are perfect for deep-sea fishing or jet skiing. There are also many casinos and resorts where live action can be experienced as well as the opportunity to play on championship golf courses.
The base population totals roughly 50,000 which consists of 5100 active-duty personnel, 1605 civil-service employees, 4763 family members, 2700 contractors, and 13,000 retirees. Other tenant units include several training squadrons (333rd TRS, 334th TRS, 335th TRS, 336th TRS, 338th TRS), 53 Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, 81 Mission Support Group, 85th Engineering and Installation Squadron, Center for Aviation Technical Training Unit, as well as other support and training units.
There is a wide range of choices for primary and secondary schools in Keesler AFB. The schools are run by the Biloxi School District. Children can attend elementary schools at Gorenflo Elementary, Jeff Davis Elementary, North Bay Elementary, and Popps Ferry Elementary. Junior high school students can attend Biloxi Junior High School and high school students can either attend Biloxi Senior High School or Lopez Alternative School.
For medical services, the 81st Medical Group provides trusted care to personnel and family members at Keesler Hospital located at White Avenue gate off Beach Boulevard (US Highway 90). Military family housing is privatized and managed by the Forest City Military Community. There are also several off-base houses and apartments in the area. Temporary lodging be found at the Tyre House however many personnel and family members are referred to locations off-base due to its high occupancy rate.
Keesler AFB has everything that a community needs and a whole lot more. With its great location and excellent facilities on-base, it is a great place to live for work and play.