Installation Overview - Keesler Air Force Base

1
Overview

Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

Keesler Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located in Biloxi, Mississippi on the Gulf Coast. The base is named in honor of aviator 2d Lt Samuel Reeves Keesler, Jr., a Mississippi native killed in France in First World War. There are strong military ties throughout the area.

Keesler Air Force Base is the home of the 81st Training Wing -- the electronics, computer and weather training center of the United States Air Force. Under the direction of the Headquarters 2nd Air Force, also located here, Keesler is one of the largest training centers in the Air Force.

Second Air Force directs the training at five training centers, including Keesler, and reports to its parent organization, the Air Education and Training Command, headquartered at Randolph AFB, TX.

The 81 TRG Mission Statement: Advance Critical Mission Capabilities of the Air and Space Expeditionary Force... Warriors... Training Warriors... For Warriors.

Official website of Keesler AFB

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Location/Driving Directions

The base is located in the city of Biloxi, MS, on 2.6 square miles of land, much of which was provided to the U.S. Army Air Corps by the city in early 1941. Just to the south of Keesler is the Mississippi Gulf Coast, fronted with 26 miles of man-made sand beach. To the north lies the Back Bay of Biloxi. New Orleans is located some 90 miles to the west, while the city of Mobile, AL, is about 60 miles east of the base.

There are no flights arriving or departing on Keesler AFB. The closest commercial airport is the Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport. Airlines servicing Gulfport-Biloxi Airport include: Airtran, Delta, Continental, and Northwest. Taxi Cabs do service Keesler from the airport and will cost an average of $30-$40.

There is also an airport in New Orleans approximately one hour west of Keesler AFB. New Orleans Airport (MSY) is served by most major carriers including American, United, and Southwest Airlines. Mobile, AL also hosts a regional airport and is approximately 1 hour east of Keesler AFB. There are no shuttle services from the New Orleans Airport; taxi fares are $200 or more.

Coastliner Transportation is a local company providing shuttle transportation only to and from Keesler AFB to Gulfport-Biloxi Airport.

Please contact your sponsor and advise them of your estimated arrival time and flight information if applicable prior to your arrival at Keesler AFB.

Travelers leaving from the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport, New Orleans Airport, and anywhere west of Keesler should take I-10 East. Proceed to I-110 South and follow signs to Keesler Air Force Base.

Travelers leaving the Mobile Airport and anywhere east of Keesler should take I-10 West and proceed to I-110 South. Signs on the Interstate will direct you to the I-110 connector that leads to Biloxi and Keesler. Exit I-110 at U.S. 90 West and take U.S. 90 West to the second traffic light, White Ave, then turn right. White Avenue directs you to Keesler's main gate. You will travel straight into the base on Larcher Blvd. Muse Manor, where you check in for lodging, is the 24-hour arrival point. Muse Manor is approximately 4 blocks from the main gate and on the left. Upon checking in, please remember to contact your sponsor for additional direction and information.

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Main Phone Numbers

Staff Sgt. Burke Mills. Phot courtesy U.S. Air Force; photo by: Kemberly Groue

Airman Family & Readiness Ctr / Customer Service 228-376-8728

Air Force Aid 228-376-8517

Jobs (Transition Assistance Program) 228-376-8502

Volunteer Opportunity 228-377-0155/0698

Family Member Employment 228-376-8728

Base Exchange (BX) 228-435-2216

Base Operations 228-377-2120

Base Operator 228-377-1110

Base US Post Office 228-436-6711

Child Development Center 228-377-2211

Civilian Personnel 228-376-8644/8645

Commissary 228-377-4288/4666

Customer Service 228-377-5561/7771

Customer Service 228-376-8347/8348

Customer Service - Finance 228-376-8225/8229

KFCU - Main Office 228-385-5500

KFCU - Toll-Free Number 888-533-7534

Legal Assistance 228-376-8601

Lodging Front Desk 228-377-4900/228-374-0088

Medical Appointments 800-700-8603

Medical Center Information Desk 228-376-2550

Public Affairs 228-377-2783

Training Group 228-377-2610

Visitor's Center 228-377-3844

Youth Center 228-377-4116

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Population/Major Units Assigned

Staff Sgt. Jose Ramos from the Keesler Honor Guard lowers the flag at the retreat ceremony as Keesler members salute. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force; photo by: Kemberly Groue

The base is home of Headquarters, Second Air Force (2 AF) and the 81st Training Wing (81 TW) of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC).

Other groups assigned to Keesler AFB include the 45th Airlift Squadron (45 AS), which provides training in the C-21 Learjet. The Air Force Reserve Command's 403d Wing (403 WG) also located at Keesler is an Air Mobility Command (AMC)-gained composite unit which provides theater airlift support through the 815th Airlift Squadron and its C-130 Hercules aircraft, as well as serving as the parent unit to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, a WC-130 unit also known as the "Hurricane Hunters." Finally, Keesler is also home to CNATTU Keesler(Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit), a training unit for Navy and Marine personel.

There are approximately 5,100 active duty military, 1,625 civil service employees, 13,000 retirees, 4,763 family members and 2,700 contractors on Keesler AFB.

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Temporary Lodging

Lodging front-desk operations move from Muse Manor to Tyre House. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force; photo by: Kemberly Groue

Keesler maintains more than 1,400 temporary lodging units with a high occupancy rate. Contact them early and make your arrangements. Reservations can be made at the Inns of Keesler by calling 1-888-235-6343 or DSN 312-597-9986. Room rates can vary from $21 to $41 per night depending on rank. Prices and other information are always subject to change so please confirm all information.

Families of permenant party during PCS have priority for the 73 temporary lodging facilities (TLF). These facilities have fully equipped kitchenettes. Other priorities for this type of lodging are hospital patients and/or family and visitors of hospital patients. Please make reservation requests as soon as the exact date of your arrival is known. Maximum length of stay for TLF is 30 days.

Due to the high occupancy rate (93%) at Keesler lodging facilities, service members and their families are often referred to off base facilities. Lodging uses 31 hotels in the community for overflow. Generally the cost under "non-availability" runs $55-$61 per night. For this reason, be prepared financially for unexpected expenses just incase lodging is full. When calling to confirm your reservations, you may want to inquire if you will be lodging on or off base.

Pets are not allowed in lodging facilities, and the base does not offer pet boarding.

Space Available rooms may only be reserved for a maximum stay of three days. Space A is for intended for short term stays and may change daily, based upon prior commitments.

Technical Training Non-Prior Service Students (NPS) assigned to Keesler for school of 20 weeks or more (refer to orders) will find their family eligible for Lodging just as on any PSC move.

Married technical training students on orders for less than 20 weeks should budget carefully if planning to bring any family members to Keesler. TLF will be available on a space available basis and this could cause financial stresses if the family does not plan well. Please have back up plans for lodging; rooms in the community can easily run up to $100 or more per night. Please plan accordingly. For most students, this cost is out of pocket and will not be reimbursed.

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Housing

Enlisted housing at Keesler AFB. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

Keesler is in the process of the largest military family housing project in the history of the Air Force, providing over a thousand new homes for Airmen and their families.To apply for one of the 1,950 base family housing units or one of 50 mobile home spaces, make an appointment with the Housing Referral Office, 228-377-9741, DSN 597-9741, between 8 am and 4 pm Monday - Thursday or 8 am - 3 pm alternate Fridays.

Technical training students (1) should NOT move their family here unless their official Course Length is 20 weeks or more (Awaiting Further Instructions -or AFI - time does not count; nor does any other waiting period); (2) have restrictions on the point in their training they are allowed to live off-base with their family (certain number of weeks). Moving "unauthorized" families and household goods at the student's exspense causes financial hardships, since many exspenses are not reimbursed, and there is no guarantee the student will get Air Force Aid assistance.

The following must report to the Consolidated Dormitory Management Office (CDMO) and will reside in unaccompanied housing dormitory: Single E4 and below with less than 3 years in service, married military to military E4 and below with less than 3 years time in service that are not accompanied by spouse (spouse stationed at different base). CDMO is located by Gate 3 on 200 Larcher Blvd, building 4904, Room 127, phone 228-377-1730.

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Child Care

Two-year-olds Keira Brindle, left, and Julian Ozaeta meet Sparky the Fire Dog during a visit to the child development center at Keesler . Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force; photo by: Kemberly Groue

Keesler Air Force Base offers child care services through the Child Development Center (CDC) and Family Child Care Program (FCCP). Periodically, there are waiting lists for certain ages of children.

The Keesler Child Development Center is located at 604 J Street and can be reached at 228-377-2211 or DSN 312-597-2211.

Special programs such as day camps and special pre-school programs, which are offered through the Child Development Center often require early registration and fill up very fast.

Shot records and an AF Form 1182 are needed for enrollment; fees are set by provider with the exception of full time care which is based on total family income and in line with the CDC fees. There is no priority care available, a waiting list is maintained by the FCC Office. For more information, call the Family Child Care Office at 228-377-3189 or DSN 312-597-3189.

The Family Child Care Home Program offers home-based child care in licensed homes for children ages two weeks through twelve years. These self-employed providers operate their home independently in compliance with strict Air Force policies, including frequent inspections and close monitoring by the Family Child Care staff. Extensive background screening and orientation training must be completed prior to licensing. Full time, part time, hourly, weekends, extended hours and school age care is available.

For teens and youth, the Youth Activities Center offers many programs. Children's theater, dance studios, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4H, the YMCA, summer drama camps for teens and school activities give youth plenty of opportunities to socialize, learn and grow. An open Recreation program is for youth age 9 and older - youths may sign themselves into the program.

A series of camps are offered; Summer camp for teens age 13 - 17 year olds and a school age camp for 5 year olds (that HAVE attended all day pre-K) - 12 year olds. The cost is determined by family income. The camps offer fantastic recreation and learning opportunities from 4-H projects, field trips, community service projects, gardening, sports and physical fitness. During the school year, Before/After school program for youth ages 6-12 years. The program provides breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks.

There is a Youth Employment Service for youth 14 and older for teens with active duty AF parents. Youth are assigned to various work units throughout the base to earn credits for college at the rate of $4 per volunteer hour, with a maximum of $1000 through 12th grade.

For additional information or a packet of information for your child/teen, contact Youth Activities, 228-377-4116 or DSN 312-597-4116.

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Schools

Children taking part in Keesler’s Earth-Arbor Day events. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force; photo by: Kemberly Groue

Classes from pre-kindergarten to Master's Degree are available at Keesler and in the surrounding communities. Military personnel and family members can take advantage of Education Services available at Education Services Flight. A counselor determines enrollment eligibility for specific programs. Services include counseling, testing, and enrollment in a variety of education programs ranging from basic skills remediation and NCO Leadership Development classes through college degree programs. Financial assistance and information about education benefits and other forms of financial aid for soldiers and family members is available.

There are many fine public and private kindergartens, elementary, middle, high and vocational schools on the Gulf Coast. For post-secondary education, there are community colleges and major university campuses.

Schools along the Mississippi Gulf Coast generally begin the second week in August and dismiss for summer at the end of May. The following documents will be needed: Certified copy of birth certificate (must have state seal); student transcript and report card (provide as much info as possible on grades); Social Security Number; two proofs of residency (utility bill, lease agreement, etc.); and immunization Record on a Mississippi Compliance Form. This form may be obtained through Keesler Medical Center. This form must be completed before any child can begin school.

You are encouraged to come by the Airman & Family Readiness Center and ask for a School Guide for a listing of local schools, or visit the Keesler web site and look at the School Liaison link.

Students transferring from a non-accredited school, or from home-school into Public School, must take the appropriate placement tests as determined by school officials.

Age requirements for Mississippi Public schools by State Law are:

Kindergarten -Child must be 5 years old prior to 1 September
First Grade - Child must be 6 years old prior to 1 September
Transferring Within and Outside of Districts

Call the appropriate school district for their policy on school transfers within the district. State Law requires that if you move out of a school district and you elect to keep your children in the previous district, then you must pay tuition.

Contact the Biloxi school superintendent's office, 228-374-1810, for school zone and assignment information for public school students. School bus transportation is provided by Biloxi Schools for all children residing in Keesler housing attending a public school beyond one mile from the housing area.

If you choose to home school your child, there is a group of homeschooling parents at Kessler that meet, current POC is Coast Military Home Educators Association, 228-374-6782 or cmheassoc@juno.com. In Gulfport, contact the Coast Christian Home Educators' Association, 228-863-4084. OR contact the Mississippi Home Educators' Association at mhea@juno.com or Box 945, Brookhaven MS 39602.

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Medical Care

Keesler Medical Center. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force; photo by: Kemberly Groue

The 81st Medical Group, the Air Force's third largest medical group, operates Keesler Medical Center, one of the largest medical centers in the Air Force. Its primary mission is to maintain medical readiness for worldwide contingencies by providing quality, cost- effective healthcare for 10,947 active duty and 46,981 eligible local beneficiaries in a 40-mile catchment area.

The 81st Medical Group provides the most comprehensive array and quality of services available in the Gulf Coast area. TRICARE Prime is the DoD's premier program for delivering comprehensive health care.

The medical center offers almost 60 services and education programs with a staff of approximately 1,700 military and civilian members and partnerships with Tricare and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The medical center has seven newly-renovated surgery suites and a myriad of improvements throughout the basement including flood barriers on external doors and a re-alignment of high-dollar assets to floors above the basement level.

TRICARE Prime beneficiaries enrolled to Keesler Medical Center may use the 1-800-700-8603 appointment line to book or cancel appointments and leave telephone consults for their primary care managers. You may enroll or transfer your TRICARE Prime enrollment to Keesler Medical Center at the Patient Registration Office, room 1A-230 or at the TRICARE Service Center on Pass Road.

Medical Center Clinic Hours are 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 7 a.m.-4 p.m. "up" Fridays. The family practice, internal medicine and pediatric clinics see patients 7 a.m.-4 p.m. compressed work schedule Fridays. Clinics normally are closed for Warrior Day training from 11-5 p.m. the second Thursday of each month.