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History of Defense in Mississippi

Mississippi is a strategic location for the defense industry and military operations. Mississippi started a presence in the defense industry in World War I, and has kept its heavy pro-military presence in the state ever since. Mississippi provides the defense industry with various military testing, training, and weapon manufacturing. Construction of defense vessels at Ingalls Shipbuilding, military training exercises at Camp Shelby, and rocket engine testing at Stennis Space Center are just a few examples of what Mississippi has to offer.


After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I in 1957, President John F. Kennedy responded to congress by stating, “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.” At the time, Mississippi Senator John Stennis wanted to achieve this same mission. There was a joint partnership among the aviation industry, the military, and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in the creation of a “Space Crescent” that stretched across the gulf states. The best fit for the new test site was located in Hancock County, Mississippi, because of its strategic placement with its location on the water, close proximity to the Michoul plant in New Orleans, support of the community, and due to Senator Stennis’s heavy influence.


A 1961 economic boom shook Hancock County creating 9,000 new jobs and an annual income of $65 million. The construction of the new Mississippi Test Facility (MTF) became the second largest construction project in the nation. The first mission of MTF was to test the first and second rings of Saturn V. MTF played a vital role in the success of the Apollo 11 mission. MTF is known today as the John C. Stennis Space Center; it was renamed in May of 1988 in honor of Senator Stennis for his  




efforts and loyalty to the space center. As chairman of the Senate of Armed Services Committee from 1969 to 1980, Senator Stennis heavily supported the U.S. military and its efforts. Through the years, the space center has grown and become a key area for government and private research facilities, with its biggest tenant being the U.S. Navy. The space center is home of Special Boat Team-22 which as a special-operations force group designated for riverine extraction.


In 1926, Mayor Hugh White of Columbia had a desire to bring industry and jobs to Mississippi during a time of poverty in the state. He went to Chicago and made a deal with a men’s clothing manufacture, Reliance Manufacturing, to bring a plant to the state. The partnership between Reliance and Columbia fulfilled White’s vision of “Balancing Agriculture with Industry”. Due to White’s leadership, in 1936, the Industrial Act of 1936 was legislated and allowed local communities to make proposals to build manufacturing plants before the Balancing Agriculture with Industry Board. From 1936 to 1940, twelve manufactures were established around the state with the most important one being Ingalls Shipyard.


Ingalls Shipbuilding Company was founded in 1938, and is today the largest producer of ships for the U.S. Navy. After World War II, Ingalls further advanced its production of Navy combat vessels. In 1956, Ingalls built two Sherman-class destroyers for the United States Navy that was fully equipped with 5-inch guns, three antiaircraft guns, and one set of torpedo tubes. Ingalls was the first shipyard to construct ships equipped with the Aegis Combat System and to repair ships with vertical launching system. In 2001, Ingalls built the USS Iwo Jima which was the first ship to be designed and constructed as an amphibious assault ship. Today, Ingalls is 

commonly referred to as the “shipyard of the future”. Many would say they are the best at what they do and continue to be master ship builders for the U.S. Navy. Today Ingalls continues to bring economic growth to Mississippi by remaining the largest manufacturing employer in the state.


The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) is the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world, and it has recently constructed a plant in Columbus, Mississippi, at the Golden Triangle and Regional Airport. The site was appealing due to its close proximity to Columbus Air Force Base and being in the same region as Starkville which makes Mississippi State University’s engineering and technology readily available. The U.S. Army has a contract with the company to build the next generation of light utility helicopters. The plant has created new jobs in the state and has also shown that Mississippi is a part of the global aerospace industry.


Mississippi has strong support and contribution to our national defense of the United States military, and it is able to use its strategic location to further advances and show a strong pro-military presence in the United States. Mississippi has the right resources that can advance the state to be a vital logistics hub for the Department of Defense as it continues to be a key player in the pursuit of military programs across the state. Ingalls and Stennis have been a presence in the defense industry for years, and EADS is a new globally recognized company that shows Mississippi’s ongoing support to the Department of Defense


Dougherty, K. (2010). Weapons of Mississippi (pp. 110-124, 141-150). Univ. Press of Mississippi

Military Sites in Mississippi

Site Name Address Site Link
Camp Shelby 1001 Lee Ave., Hattiesburg, MS 39407 More Info
Keesler AFB 4503 M St, Biloxi, MS 39530& More Info
Naval Air Station Meridian 255 Rosenbaum Ave Meridian, MS 39309-5003 More Info
186th Air Refueling Wing - Key Field 186 ARW 6225 M Street Meridian, MS  39307 More Info
Camp McCain 3152 James H. Biddy Rd, Grenada, MS 38901  More Info
Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Seabees Gulfport 4902 Marvin Shields Blvd, Gulfport, MS 39501  More Info
Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) 4715 Hewes Ave, Gulfport, MS 39507  More Info
Stennis Space Center John C. Stennis Space Center, MS  More Info
Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) 3909 Halls Ferry Rd, Vicksburg, MS  More Info
Columbus AFB 108 Simler Blvd., Columbus, MS 39705  More Info
Allen C. Thompson Air National Guard Base Field 141 Military Dr, Flowood, MS 39232  More Info
1-185th Aviation Battalion, Hawkins Field 100 International Dr., Suite 300 Jackson, MS 39208  More Info
1-111th Aviation, Key Field 1551 65th Avenue South Meridian, MS 39307  More Info
1-185th Aviation Battalion, Tupelo Regional Airport 104 Lemons Dr., Tupelo, MS 38800  More Info
155th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) "Dixie Thunder" 2705 West Jackson Street, Tupelo, MS 38801  More Info
184th Sustainment Command 2126 Ellisville Blvd Laurel, Mississippi 39440-5422  More Info
66th Troop Command 1420 Raymond Road, Jackson, MS 39204  More Info
2-20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 2497 N West St. Jackson, MS 39216  More Info
US Army Corps of Engineers-Vicksburg District 4155 Clay Street, Vicksburg, MS 39183  More Info
1108th Theatre Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group (TASMG) 4715 Hewes Ave. Gulfport, MS 39507  More Info
US Coast Guard Station Gulfport 991 23rd Ave., Gulfport, Mississippi 39501  More Info
US Coast Guard Station Pascagoula USNS Pathfinder Way, Pascagoula, MS 39581  More Info
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