KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Team Keesler welcomed the new commander of the 81st Training Wing during the Assumption of Command ceremony at the Levitow Training Support Facility, March 23.
Col. Billy Pope returned to Keesler to take command of the 81st TRW in a ceremony officiated by Maj. Gen. Michele Edmondson, Second Air Force commander. Pope and his family were previously stationed at Keesler when he served as the 81st Communications Squadron commander from June 2014 to July 2016.
Pope received his commission in 2001 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Redlands. He has served in numerous capacities within the Communications and Cyber Operations career fields including cyberspace strategy, offensive and defensive cyber operations and joint special operations communications. Pope previously commanded at the group level and has held positions at service headquarters, joint combatant command, major command, and installation levels within the continental United States and abroad.
Coming from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland serving as both 688th Cyberspace Wing Intelligence and Operations, director and 690th Cyberspace Operations Group commander, Pope will take on the Keesler mission, overseeing 12,000 Airmen and civilians and providing technical training for officers, enlisted, and civilians of the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserves, other service branches and international students from allied nations.
Pope is the 50th commander to lead the installation since its activation in 1941. Today, Keesler technically trains and develops 28,000 students, annually.
“I could not be more thrilled for the opportunity to put my own shoulder under our tremendously important load that we carry on behalf of the Department of the Air Force,” said Pope. “The future of our force…and in many ways, the future of our nation rests in our ability to train, develop, and retain the Airmen and Guardians who form the backbone of our nation’s defense.”