Mississippi Military Bases
Map of Military bases in Mississippi
Camp McCain was named after Major General Henry P. McCain and was built in 1942 in Grenada County, Mississippi. During WWII, it trained infantry and even housed German prisoners of war. Just four years after it was built, it was turned into a National Guard Post for Mississippi. It now provides housing for 1,200 troops, and several training facilities for tactical maneuvers are used by the National Guard there.
This Army base is located a few miles outside Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It is the largest military training site in the U.S. Camp Shelby was deactivated a few times since its establishment in 1917 and changed hands several times. Over 4,500 workers helped with construction and as soon as it opened, Camp Shelby started training troops for front-line combat in WWI. At one point, Camp Shelby hosted the Women’s Army Corp, and it served as a prisoner-of-war camp for German soldiers. Today the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum is located on base grounds in addition to the Youth Challenge Academy.
Mississippi Ordnance Plant
The Mississippi Ordnance Plant is actually part of NASA’s National Space Technology Laboratories facility called the Stennis Space Center. Construction on the plant was completed in 1983, and it was the first plant of its kind to be built after the Korean War. The facility was deactivated in 2009 and taken over by NASA. Initially, the primary purpose of the plant was to produce grenade-loaded 155mm Howitzer rounds. Today, the Stennis Space Center there can be visited by the generally public.
Columbus Air Force Base
Located just north of Columbus, Mississippi, this Air Force base hosts the 14th Flying Training Wing (which operates under the Air Education and Training Command) and several other training squadrons. Ever since the start of WWI, Columbus AFB has trained pilots, although it was inactivated briefly in the time between the end of WWII and the start of the Korean War. The training here is so thorough that nearly half the Air Force’s pilots have attended the basic and primary training here. Throughout the major wars, Columbus AFB played an essential role training pilots and deploying them to conflict areas. In fact, during the Vietnam War, a unit deployed out of this base (the 454th Bombardment Wing) flew over 100 missions to South Vietnam and in all that time never lost a bomber to enemy fire.
Keesler Air Force Base
The Keesler AFB was named after Samuel Reeves Keesler Jr. who was killed in France during WWI. The base was built in 1941 in just a few months and cost the military somewhere around $10 million, easily becoming the most expensive project to ever take place in Mississippi up to that point. Soldiers were trained in gunnery, mechanics, radio operations, bombardment, and aerial operations. In 1969 and again in 2005, two hurricanes (Camille and Katrina) wrecked the area, causing major flooding and damages to the base. Today, Keesler AFB is home to the 81st Training Wing.
The NCBC Gulfport was constructed in 1942 in response to the need for a deep-water port that would service the Caribbean. The area of Mississippi that this station is located in has a semi-tropical climate that is perfect for training. Just two years after it was built, the NCBC Gulfport changed missions, and instead of focusing on deep-water port needs, it focused on ratings for diesel engine, quartermaster, basic engineering, and electrician. This base is home to the Navy’s construction battalions, the Atlantic Fleet Seabees.
Naval Air Station Meridian is primarily a military airport spanning two separate counties in Mississippi. Unlike many military bases that were created with the onset of WWII, this base actually finished construction in 1961 and in total required an investment of about $60 million. This station is one of two training centers focused on operations in jet strike training. The base has only 5 permanent units, the most important of which is Training Air Wing 1. Additional units include Training Squadron 7, Training Squadron 9, Marine Aviation Training Support, and the Naval Technical Training Center.
This base was established in 1988 on Singing River Island, which sits at the mouth of the Pascagoula River in the Mississippi Sound. The Naval station was used as a strategic homeport site for the Gulf Coast. The USS Gallery was the first ship to port here, starting the base’s operation as a Perry-class guided-missile frigate homeport. NS Pascagoula was officially disestablished in 2006.