New Designs Mean More Modern, Better Protected Keesler AFB

A hungry claw clamored for more wood, bricks and whatever materials it could grab. It was chewing up another destroyed home at the Oak Park housing area that belongs to Keesler. The demolition means progress for Charles Dunn, the commander of the 81st Mission Support Group at the Biloxi Air Force Base.

"We have about 44 acres here and 232 homes that we need to continue to demolish," said Charles Dunn.

Each house that comes down means the base moves closer to building new ones.

"It's very important for us to bring the families back together," said Dunn. "We have some military personnel living in dorms. Right now, they're separated from their families."

Besides housing, another big concern is restoring the flooded Commissary and B-X. A temporary exchange is expected to open this fall. In the meantime, a new design puts the BX and Commissary under one roof and in a safer location.

"It's going to be on higher ground, that will be along Meadows Avenue. It's up where the current library and also the current, temporary commissary exist."

While the medical center is open, right now, it's only offering outpatient services. Repairs are underway inside, and crews are trying to get the elevator and escalator working by next month. When the repairs are finished and new buildings are in place, Keesler won't look the same.

"It's going to be a changed base. Those who have been here in the past, they will not recognize this installation when they return. And we're very excited about that".

In all, Keesler will tear down more than a thousand homes and start the rebuilding process as early as this summer. The base is also building a temporary pharmacy, and it could be ready next month.