BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi's Keesler Air Force Base has been named the winner of this year's Installation Excellence Award. Besides the bragging rights, the award comes with a big prize: $1 million to invest in quality of life improvements.
"It is our distinct privilege to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of the men and women who operate and maintain our Air Force installations," Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said in the memo announcing the award. "We thank them for a job very well done."
Keesler AFB was recognized specifically for its efforts to expand a recycling and energy conservation program, renovating dormitories, improving the medical evaluation board case completion time, and reducing errors in deployment out-processing by 20 percent.
The base's strong ties with the local community also played into the win. Keesler AFB hosts the state Special Olympics, and airmen volunteers can be found helping with Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, Heart Walk, youth sports, scouting programs, and humanitarian relief projects.
"General Spacy, as well as all the Air Force and civilian personnel at Keesler Air Force Base, can be proud of this recognition. I am consistently impressed by the quality of the South Mississippi workforce and the level of professionalism demonstrated at Keesler to effectively fulfill its national security missions," said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, the ranking Republican on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee who toured and visited personnel at the Keesler Medical Center in February.
"It would make sense for the Air Force to take note of this record of excellence as it considers mission assignments across different installations," Cochran added.
Seventeen personnel and eight units from Keesler AFB were named as "Special Recognition" winners for exemplary achievement in support of installation excellence.
The individual special-recognition winners are:
- Maj. John Ponton - 81st Force Support Squadron
- Maj. Wendy H. Wilkins - 81st Medical Surgical Squadron
- Capt. Jacob Marshall-JAG - 81st Training Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate
- Master Sgt. Michael T. Asdel - 81st Training Wing Safety
- Master Sgt. Nicole D. Dismute - Mathies NCO Academy
- Master Sgt. Tomeika Washington - 81st Force Support Squadron
- Tech. Sgt. Daniel J. Mike - 335th Training Squadron
- Tech. Sgt. Shaun Wilke - 81st Training Squadron
- Staff Sgt. Brandon T. Barrette - 335th Training Squadron
- Staff Sgt. Hana K. Webb - 81st In-Patient Operations Squadron
- Airman 1st Class Andrew D. Pomeroy - 81st Comptroller Squadron
- Ms. Sandra M. Browne - 81st Training Wing (Sexual Assault Response Coordinator)
- Mr. Alberta E. Ciampa - 81st Aerospace Medicine Squadron
- Mr. Steven R. Green - 81st Contracting Squadron
- Mr. Tommy Lassabe - 81st Training Squadron
- Ms. Jackie A. Pope - 81st Force Support Squadron
- Mr. Gary R. Schafer - 81st Force Support Squadron
The unit winners are the 81st Force Support Squadron Manpower and Personnel Flight, 81st Medical Group Operating Room, 81st Security Forces Squadron Support Staff, 81st Training Group Military Training Operations, 81st Training Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, 81st Training Wing Safety Office, 81st Training Wing Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Office, and the 338th Training Squadron.
As the Air Force's top installation, Keesler AFB has been nomination to the Secretary of Defense for the 2013 Commander in Chief's Installation Excellence Award.
The Installation Excellence awards were established by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 to recognize the outstanding efforts of people who effectively operate Department of Defense installations.