Griffith: Keesler’s win is great for Keesler AND the community

Today’s announcement that Keesler has been named the best base in the Air Force was a point of pride on many levels for Councilman Clark Griffith, an Air Force combat pilot whose 35-year career included commanding Keesler Air Force Base and the Second Air Force from 1992 to 1995.

“Obviously, if you’re picked by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force as the top installation, you can’t get much higher than that,” said Griffith, a three-star general who with Mayor A.J. Holloway sat beside a two-star general heading the inspection team visit to Keesler in January. “This honor is well-deserved, especially considering what all of us on the Gulf Coast have gone through.

“And a big part of this is about community – not only what the men and women of Keesler do for the community, but how this community embraces Keesler.”

Griffith also has a special connection with Gen. Brad Spacy, the commander of the 81st Training Wing. In fact, Griffith played a direct role in Spacy initially coming to Biloxi back in 1994.

“When I was the commander of the Second Air Force at Keesler, I needed an executive officer,” Griffith recalls in a story that Spacy also has repeated. “I called his boss in Texas and told them I was looking for an XO, and they recommended him. I said, ‘OK, he’s it.’ Brad had requested a post in England, and when they notified him that he was being assigned to Keesler, in south Mississippi, he said, ‘No, thanks.’ His boss looked at him and said, ‘That was not a question.'”

Spacy says he fell in love with the community the minute he reached the south end of I-110, overlooking the Gulf and the beach. Griffith says he expects his former XO to settle here after retirement. “That’s going to be some years out,” Griffith said, “I envision him getting many more stars, and I couldn’t be more proud of him if he was my own son.”

Keesler announcement: Keesler has now posted the announcement on its own web site, where Gen. Spacy also addresses another aspect of the award – a $1 million prize for a quality-of-life improvement at the base. To read the story, click here.