Naval Air Station Meridian or NAS Meridian is a military airport located 11 miles northeast of Meridian, Mississippi in Lauderdale County and is one of the Navy's two jet strike pilot training bases (the other being NAS Kingsville, Texas).
Training Squadron SEVEN (VT-7) arrived at NAAS Meridian July 12, 1961, then split to form its sister squadron, Training Squadron NINE (VT-9) on December 15. In September 1965, hundreds of planes from Florida bases arrived to escape the wrath of Hurricane Betsy. The Naval Auxiliary Air Station continued to grow, and by July 1968, the station became a full Naval Air Station. The years brought an increase in building development and family housing units. In 1968, and again in 1969, 300 aircraft from Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida arrived to escape the fury and destruction of Hurricane Gladys and Hurricane Camille, respectively.
In August 1971, Training Air Wing ONE (TRAWING ONE) was commissioned and Training Squadron NINETEEN (VT-19) was also established. The Wing motto became "Readiness for Victory at Sea through Training." That October saw the arrival of the TA-4J, the new advanced jet trainer based on the A-4 "Skyhawk." In April 1973, President Richard M. Nixon, accompanied by Senator John C. Stennis and many other high-ranking military and civilian officials, attended the dedication of the new Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC). Known locally as the Stennis Center, it was officially commissioned April 17, 1974.
NAS Meridian was selected and upgraded to a Major Shore Command on October 1, 1982. In March 1984, NAS Meridian was one of 15 installations chosen for the Department of Defense Model Installation Program. In September 1985, the enlisted galley was dedicated to the memory of Marine Lance Corporal Roy M. Wheat, a Mississippi native and Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in Vietnam.
The Air Operations Department employs 230 military and civilian personnel to operate NAS Meridain/McCain Field and Naval Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Joe Williams. Their primary mission is to support Commander, Training Air Wing ONE, the wing's subordinate training squadrons and its associated T-45 Goshawk aircraft in the conduct of undergraduate strike pilot training. Additional services are furnished to support operations for NAS and transient military aircrews. Air Traffic Control Division operates the control tower and radar final control systems. They provide flight planning services and issue clearances and instructions to pilots for all phases of military flight operations within the vicinity of the airport. Ground Electronics Maintenance Division (GEMD) ensures all assigned UHF, VHF and FM radio communications, air navigation aids, weather monitoring/reporting equipment and precision approach radars required to conduct safe and effective flight operations around NAS Meridian and its outlying field operate at or above designated performance standards. GEMD also provides sound support services and functions as point of contact for matters related to 3M, frequency management, equipment configuration and computer repair/assistance.
HH-1N Huey helicopters were formerly used by the station's Search and Rescue personnel to provide 24-hour rescue coverage of the Eastern Mississippi/Western Alabama area. The 25-member SAR team consisted of pilots, aircrewmen and hospital corpsmen who were trained in first aid, helicopter rappelling and tree extraction. The team also assisted in a wide variety of civilian emergencies, such as searching for missing persons, assisting with aircraft and boating mishaps and occasional MEDEVAC missions.