Top Stories of the Year: #5

#5: BRAC

It was a fight Meridian was used to fighting, and a fight it's used to winning, so when it was announced the plans for the realignment and closure of bases across the nation would come this year, people here prepared for another battle.

There was certainly that, though not exactly the battle people here were accustomed to fighting, this time when the BRAC announcements were made, the long jeopardized Meridian Naval Air Station was spared and significant cuts. Unfortunately, Meridian's Air National Guard Wing was not.

Lamar McDonald was a part of Meridian's Military Team. He said "We're doing our very best to determine exactly what the department of defense is planning for the 186th, what it means."

What it meant was that the base would be losing 175 full-time jobs and the familiar air refueling tankers that have been there for many years, unless Meridian's Military Team could talk the BRAC Commission out of it.

The team thought they had a pretty good argument. They told commissioners moving the re-fuelers out of Meridian would mean there wouldn't be enough in the Southeast to handle the number of planes that needed refueling here. They also told them the cost of training people to take Meridian's pilots places would offset any savings that might occur by realigning the 186th.

"Our argument is the most solid, tactical argument. It just does make sense," said Langston Knight, who was also on the Meridian Military Team.

Unfortunately, BRAC Commissioners did not feel that way. They went along with Pentagon recommendations and voted to realign the base. At this point, it's not known exactly when that will happen, or what, if any, mission will replace the 186th's current mission.

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