At the front gate of NAS Meridian Monday morning, base commander Capt. Russell Knight and the Petty Officers Association, unveiled "Warfighter."

The carousel horse is the newest addition to the permanent art exhibit, "Around Town Carousels Abound." It has been two years in the making and with the showing of the outdoors exhibit at the front gate, visitors and base personnel can all enjoy the beautiful display.

"This has been a long time in coming" said Knight as several dozen people gathered around the display. "A great deal of thanks goes to Mr. and Mrs. Al Rosenbaum as well as the Petty Officers Association and the Marines and Sailors here on base."

"Warfighter" was born and will join the more than 60 other horses, which are located throughout Meridian and Lauderdale County. Originally the brainchild of Debbie Martin and Jamie Cater, the permanent art exhibit of carousel horses was designed not only to serve as a display of artistic talent but also to benefit financially Hope Village for Children.

Knight said the theme and look of the sky blue horse with unit insignias and T-45 trainers was the result of many ideas coming together as one.

The first step was to get a design for the horse's paint scheme. After holding a competition, it was decided to use a combination of all the designs submitted, because that would best represent the missions of NAS Meridian and its tenant commands.

Next came the fund-raising -- and after nearly two years, everything was in place.

"Warfighter" was painted by Lisa Daws, who also painted the "Spirit of Collinsville," located on Highway 19N in Collinsville.

"The name of the horse came from why we are here at NAS Meridian in the first place," Knight said. "We are here to train the warfighter."

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