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Palazzo Rallies Support For Keesler Air Force Base

By Evelina Burnett | Published 23 Apr 2014 10:00am | comments

Mississippi Fourth District Congressman Steven Palazzo is rallying support in Congress to try to keep the C130J airplanes at Keesler Air Force Base.

As MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, he brought one of the House's highest-ranking members for a tour of the Biloxi base yesterday.

After his tour of Keesler, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, says he's going to do everything he can to help keep the 10 aircraft with Keesler's 403rd Reserve Wing.

The Air Force Reserve Command said in March it plans to transfer the planes to Little Rock and close the 403rd Civil Engineer squadron. The 815th Airlift Squadron and its active-duty arm, the 345th, are set to close in June. McCarthy says the decision is the Air Force leadership’s, but Congress can ask questions.

Palazzo is in the middle of a re-election campaign in which he's faced criticism from his challenger, long-time Representative Gene Taylor, for the loss of these planes.

But Palazzo says he’s been asking the hard questions about the planned move and will continue to do so. He says he's invited top Air Force officials to visit Keesler as well.

The closures could lead to 500 personnel cuts, mostly traditional reservists but some full-time Air Reserve Technicians as well. The Wing currently employs about 1,700 people. 

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