Military Matters: Marine Corps big part of NAS Meridian

MERIDIAN NAVAL AIR STATION, Miss. (WTOK) - Naval Air Station Meridian is a big part of this community. The jets flying in the skies above us are a regular reminder of the pilot training taking place here. But did you know it's also home to another branch of the military?

Naval Air Station Meridian is clearly home to the U.S. Navy but some people may not realize there are hundreds of Marines here too.

The training in Meridian includes working on their physical fitness, team building and classroom-based learning relating to their chosen specialty.

A unique part of the 6-8 week course involves recruits taking off their boots and entering the dojo, a space for martial arts.

"Everyone in the Marine Corps is required to do some form of martial arts training. It starts from the very beginning of boot camp and you progress through the belts as you progress through your military career," said GYSGT Jahbari Codes.

Marines famously pride themselves on physical fitness, something that's regularly put to the test on the base's obstacle course, or O course, as it's known.

"It's super important because whenever we go into battle we've got to be physically fit and mentally prepared and the O course is perfect to prepare those Marines," said SGT Chase Gearhart.

Not all enlisted Marines come through Meridian though. It's limited to those with specific job roles.

"We have four different schools here. We have the MRO asset manager, Marine aviation supply, aviation operation specialist and then we also have aviation maintenance data specialists," said SSGT Chandra Drayton.

One thing is clear. Those who lead the young Marines are proud of the program.

"Naval Air Station Meridian. Who would have thought you do have a detachment of at least 300 or 400 Marines but we're here. We're training alongside with the Navy," said Codes. "This is an aviation school house so it's only kind of fitting for it to be here at an air station. It's a great place to be. We like it here, just the camaraderie between the two forces is a great thing."

If you have a story suggestion for Military Matters, email brianna.bynum@wtok.com.