Meridian Star

Local News

April 27, 2014

Wings and Tails coming in May

MERIDIAN —     Naval Air Station Meridian, which trains aviators with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, along with aviators from various countries, has for decades taught young men and women how to fight from the sea. The base has garnered strong community support from one group that constantly keeps the seamen, aviators, and Marines in the minds and hearts of residents.

    The Mississippi Council of the Navy League in Meridian will host host its largest fundraiser of the year on May 1 that will enable the organization to keep touting the benefits of the base and the military members who serve there.

    The event is the Wings and Tails and the event, as it does each year, promises to provide residents the opportunity to meet face to face the men and women who defend America from the sea.

    "This is a great way to make that connection with the men and women from the base who do so much for us, not only locally, but nationally and around the world," said Mike Reed, a member of the Mississippi Council of the Navy League Board. "We encourage everyone to come out and meet and mingle with these extraordinary people."

    Tickets for the event are $25 each and includes a shrimp dinner with all the favorite sides, wine, beer, or soft drinks, live music, and an antique car show with a motorcycle exhibit. For the flying enthusiasts, there will static displays of aircraft from prop driven planes to the jets of today. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Key Brothers Hanger at Key Field on Highway 11 South.

    Reed said funds raised during the event go toward awards such as the Stennis Award for Excellence. The award is named after the late senator from Mississippi, the Honorable John C. Stennis, who was instrumental in bringing the air station to Meridian in 1961. The award goes to the top student at the Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) on board NAS Meridian.

    Other awards the organization sponsors are the Golden Stick Award, given to the best student aviator throughout their training on board NAS Meridian, The Sailor of the Year, and the Navy ROTC.

    Reed said the Mississippi Council of the Navy League in Meridian is one of the most active of all the leagues in the nation and abroad. He said it is vital to give the continued support of the seamen and Marines for two reasons.

    "They provide our country that security blanket against aggressors and the base is an important part of our economy here in Lauderdale County and Meridian, not to mention East Mississippi," Reed said.

    According to Susan Junkins, public affairs officer for NAS Meridian, the base has an area economic impact of $220 million.

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