Meridian Star

Local News

September 29, 2009

More than just jets

Thousands of military and law enforcement personnel receive training

Not so far from the offices of U.S. Navy Commander Christopher Bownds at the Navy Technical Training Center (NTTC) on board Naval Air Station Meridian, Rolls Royce jet engines can be heard roaring as they power up to take yet another student aviator and his instructor into a clear blue morning.

As the jet engine roar is replaced by yet another, and another, Bownds smiles knowing this is what many people in East Mississippi and West Alabama think of whenever NAS Meridian is mentioned. Rightfully so, NAS Meridian graduates hundreds of Navy and Marine aviators each year who go on to defend America and its people. But Bownds was quick to point out on a media tour Tuesday morning that there are a great many more military personnel who graduate from the sprawling complex for other duties.

"There are a lot more men and women in the Navy and Marines who are in support roles than who are on the front lines or flying aircraft," said Bownds. "Here is the place in which they learn their jobs so they are prepared to be assigned to their duty stations or fleet assignments."

It is commonly held that for every combat soldier on the ground or aviator in the air there are approximately eight support personnel behind the scenes. At the NTTC and Marine Aviation Support Squadron One across the road where Marine Maj. G.F. Boos commands, young men and women are taught how to be logistics specialists, aviator administration personnel, yeomen, any other job or service needed to run a ship, get an F/A 18 off the deck or keep track of the people and paperwork. The work of the expert instructors who teach the thousands of students is vital to the U.S. Navy and Marines running as smoothly as it does.

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