Historic flight lands at Keesler Air Force Base

By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The jet making its decent through crystal clear skies to the coast looked like any other commercial airliner, but with one major difference. This chartered Southwest jet was filled with 186 new Air Force recruits.  It's destination: Keesler Air Force Base.

For decades, the recruits have arrived by bus, but that all changed Monday in front of a crowd of base VIPs.

And it's a change for the better, according to the Keesler's commander.

"I think their quality of life, of saying the Air Force treats me like the rest of the Air Force gets treated," General Ian Dickinson said. "If I have to go a long distance, they'll fly me where I need to be to accomplish my mission."

One by one, the recruits stepped onto the Keesler tarmac, ready to start a new adventure. Even though the students arriving at Keesler come from all walks of life and all regions of the country, one thing they all agree on is that taking a plane here is a lot better than a 12 hour bus ride.

"What can I say, we're here, ready to go to tech school, to learn basic training," Basic Airman Roy Vreland said. "There's not a better way we could have come here."

Some of the recruits have been on buses before, and it's a memory none of them will miss.  Those riders included Airman 1st Class Tumaro Shepherd.

"I've been on a bus before and I know it's very cramped and everything, so I probably wouldn't feel like going to work. But this plane is more comfortable," Shepherd said.

And going to work and learning how to protect the country is what these recruits want to do right now, fresh off the jet.

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