Chamber plans Salute to Military


The 38th annual Salute to the Military will recognize all Coast military men and women Tuesday at the Coast Convention Center in Biloxi.

The dinner, presented by the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. The program will begin at 7.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James will be the featured speaker. As the 23rd secretary of the Air Force, James is responsible for nearly 660,000 active-duty, Guard and Reserve airmen and their families. She oversees an annual budget of more than $139 billion.

James holds a bachelor’s degree in comparative area studies from Duke University and a master’s degree from Columbia University in international affairs.

Her 30 years of experience is deeply rooted in national security. She spent nearly a decade with SAIC serving as the senior vice president and director of Homeland Security.

Kaila Moran, program coordinator for the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, said it is an honor to have James speak.

“We’re so excited to have Secretary James,” she said. “I’m even more excited that she gets to tour Keesler. It lets the higher-ups at D.C. see what we do and they get to experience the base.”

James, along with U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-4, will honor military from all bases on the Coast, along with veterans. Additionally, special recognition will be given through the Thomas V. Fredian Community Leadership Award.

Douglas Maxwell, Fredian Award coordinator, said one award recipient is chosen from nine nominees who have outstanding service records and make exceptional contributions to their communities.

“Their selfless dedication to their country coupled with their extracurricular community volunteerism establishes a standard that far exceeds those expected,” he said.

This year’s nominees: Utilitiesman Chief (SCW) Timothy J. Dry; Aerographer’s Mate First Class (IW/SW) Jacqueline A. Gonzalez; Electronics Technician First Class (SW) Christopher W. Schmidt; Hospital Corpsman First Class (EXW/AW/SCW) Adrianyon M. Riley Sr.; Machinery Technician Second Class Ruben D. Cabrera-Matos; Sgt. Nicholas M. Cella; Sgt. Christopher M. Champagne; Staff Sgt. Michael S. Lane; and Staff Sgt. Michelle N. Pascas.

Preferred dress is black tie or uniform, but business attire is acceptable.

Tickets are $60 for civilians or $600 for a table of 10. For tickets, call 604-0014.