BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Keesler Air Force Base has been celebrating its 75th anniversary throughout the year.
Friday was the first anniversary celebration outside the gates of Keesler Air Force Base, and the city of Biloxi's chance to say thank you.
It was a trip down memory lane, and a time to recognize the impact Keesler has on the city of Biloxi and South Mississippi.
"I've got so many memories of things that we did while we were here at Keesler," said retired Lt. Col. Clark Griffin. "Most of all, we had a good time."
The former base commander knows as well as anyone the importance of Keesler's 75-year presence on the Coast, and it's not just the $1.67 billion economic impact.
"I drove the first pile in the first new dorm that went into Keesler here, and now there's 12 of them out there," Griffin said. "So make something happen, but make something last."
Griffin, who is also a Biloxi Bay Chamber board member, liked Keesler so much he also retired here.
"Somebody says, 'Why did you pick Keesler to retire at?' And I say, 'We picked the community,'" said Griffin.
The celebration included nearly 100 people from Keesler and the community.
"The 75th anniversary is a huge milestone," said Col. Michele Edmondson, commander of the 81st Training Wing. "But we really recognize, and we wanted to make sure the community recognized, that it's a milestone for both the installation and for the community in the city of Biloxi."
The ceremony was co-sponsored by the Biloxi Bay Chamber.
"They're still here," said Tina Ross-Seamans, executive director. "We want them to remain here, and we want to support them the best we can."
During the ceremony an historical display of Keesler was unveiled, along with a new 75th anniversary logo. Mayor FoFo Gilich read a proclamation of Biloxi and Keesler's partnership.
"When you think of Biloxi, you think about Keesler," Gilich said. "When you think about Keesler, you think about Biloxi. And that's true for the whole country....It's hard to describe, but it's always been a part of my DNA."