Keesler Opens New Dining Facility For Students

Brigadier General Ted Mercer cut the ceremonial ribbon to help officially open the Azalea Dining Facility Wednesday. He told students that this is only one part of a major project to renovate and replace 50-year-old facilities at the base and make them state of the art.

"This is probably one of the finest dining facilities in our United States Air Force today," Brig. Gen. Mercer said.  "I think you know, Napoleon put it best when he said, 'An army truly moves on its stomach.'"

The Azalea Dining Facility can serve 1,500 people at each meal and offers a variety of choices. Keesler officials have tried to make it look more like something on a college campus and less like a military base.

"If you look at this facility and then you talk to someone who was in the military 25 or 30 years ago and you bring them into this facility, they're just going to be awed by it all because we've come a long, long ways in food service," said Terrye Heagerty, Keesler's Chief of Services.

Students seem to be happy about that.

"It's nice," Airman Chris Gautreau said. "It gives you a relaxing atmosphere after a stressful day at school or work, you can come back and relax here and pretty much enjoy yourself."

"Great salads, a lot of variey, excellent food," Airman Nicole Martin said.

The new dining facility is part of a program called Triangle Vision. It's a $123 million construction project which has included transforming the residential areas. The Air Force hopes that modernizing the dormatories and offering a more campus-like environment will help with recruitment.