Meridian, MS's Naval Air Station
PHOTO CREDIT: Brian McCord
The United States Navy and the Mississippi Air National Guard are well represented in Meridian, with two military facilities serving the area. Together, the Naval Air Station Meridian and Key Field (home to the 186th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard) provide more than 4,000 jobs for local residents.
Naval Air Station Meridian
Naval Air Station Meridian is a Navy training base that has thrived in Meridian since it was commissioned in 1961. It celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011 with events throughout the year, including the Golden Wings Over Meridian Air Show headlined by the Blue Angels in March.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 people live and/or work at the base, including contractor, civilian and law enforcement personnel.
"NAS Meridian enjoys a great relationship with members of the local community who are very supportive of the base and military personnel. The people in this community welcomed my family and embraced us with Southern hospitality as soon as we arrived in Meridian,” says Commanding Officer Capt. Charles Gibson. “Having the advantage of living on-base and participating in the various outdoor activities is also very enjoyable. On the professional side, the individuals who work onboard NAS Meridian are extremely knowledgeable, motivated, capable and make my job as Commanding Officer much easier. It is inspiring being around young sailors and Marines who will go on to become the future leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps.”
NAS Meridian is home to Training Air Wing One and its two subordinate commands, Training Squadron Seven and Training Squadron Nine. They train 52 percent of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps strike pilots annually, as well as international pilots from France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.
The base is also home to the Naval Technical Training Center and Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron One, which train enlisted sailors and Marines and graduate more than 3,500 annually.
Regional Counterdrug Training Academy
Also on the base, the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy is run by the Mississippi Air National Guard and graduated more than 12,000 law enforcement officers in 2010 from counterdrug and anti-terrorism courses.
"Naval Air Station Meridian is a perfect location for training student naval aviators,” Gibson says. “There is virtually no encroachment, plenty of air space and good weather that allows Training Air Wing One to meet its goals. NAS Meridian doesn't just train student aviators — we also train young enlisted sailors and Marines in a variety of areas before they are assigned to duty in all parts of the world. NAS Meridian is proud to support the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy, which trains thousands of civilian law enforcement personnel in the ongoing war on drugs."
Daily Life at NAS Meridian
Those who live and work at NAS Meridian enjoy a high quality of life.
“Life is good on the base — we have numerous activities and facilities,” says Terry York, director of morale, welfare and recreation at NAS Meridian. “Three restaurants are available to everyone and a galley for Navy and Marine Corps students. There is also a fitness center, childcare center, bowling and recreation center, golf course, hotel, fleet and family support center. Everyone is very positive about work, the Navy and our future. We work in an upbeat, get-it-done environment — really a good place to come to work every day.”
The public is invited to NAS Meridian’s annual POW-MIA Recognition Ceremony and 9/11 Commemoration held annually in September. The base also hosts public air shows approximately every three years, most recently in March 2011.
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