Keesler Unit Lives to Fly Another Day

The Air Force informed Congress on Tuesday that it has abandoned plans to inactivate Air Force Reserve Command’s 815th Airlift Squadron at Keesler AFB, Miss., announced members of the state’s congressional delegation. As a result, the unit’s 10 C-130J transports will continue to operate from the southern Mississippi base, they said. “Today’s announcement is a major win for the future stability of Keesler Air Force Base as well as the many communities and businesses that depend on it,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R), in the joint release with Sen. Thad Cochran (R) and Rep. Steven Palazzo (R). Wicker said he was grateful to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh “for recognizing the value that Keesler provides to the Air Force and the Gulf Coast.” Cochran, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee and its defense panel, said he looked forward to working with the Air Force to ensure the squadron’s manpower and mission “are fully restored.” The Air Force in February 2012 proposed relocating Keesler’s C-130Js, a move the lawmakers opposed. In April 2014, the Air Force inactivated the 345th AS, the Active Duty associate unit that provided additional manpower for the C-130Js.