KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The special operations Airmen who controlled the aid planes on a single runway in the wake of Haiti's earthquake began their training in the 334th Training Squadron.

"We build the foundation of future special operations forces warriors -- academics, physical fitness and mental fortitude," said Lt. Col. Michael Callendar, 334th TRS commander.

Both enlisted combat controllers and special tactics officers are trained at Keesler.

"Special tactics officers were in charge of both initial air traffic control and initial airfield management of the airport in Haiti," the colonel said.

"Air traffic control instructors set the foundation for our mission -- to control air traffic in any environment," said Tech. Sgt. Jake Chandler, noncommissioned officer in charge of combat control.

They are charged with ensuring safe airfield operations in the most austere conditions ... including the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.

-- Susan Griggs
Keesler News editor