NAS Meridian Provides Shelter, Food to Stranded Army Paratroopers.

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Story Number: NNS140130-11Release Date: 1/30/2014 2:14:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Casey H. Kyhl, Naval Air Station Meridian Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR STATION MERIDIAN, Miss.. (NNS) -- Paratroopers of the U.S. Army's 1st Brigade Combat Team (504th Parachute Infantry Regiment) 82nd Airborne Division, sheltered overnight at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian Jan. 29 after being stranded on Interstate 20 Jan. 28 on their way to Ft. Bragg, N.C. from Ft. Polk, La.

"We recently completed a training exercise at Ft. Polk in preparation for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan," said Lt. Col. Paul Anderson, commander, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. "We left Ft. Polk early Jan. 28 in anticipation of inclement weather and our first indication of trouble was when we came to a complete stop on I-20 East around midnight. What we thought was going to be a delay of a few minutes turned into a delay of more than five hours."

Around 5:30 am, 1st Brigade Combat Team leadership started looking for protection from the weather and first contacted NAS Meridian leadership just after 7:00 a.m.

"One thing we really want to communicate is our appreciation and sincere thanks to Capt. Moore and NAS Meridian for being a good joint partner and such an amazing host to our paratroopers. I know that feeding and housing of 703 Soldiers is not easy but they met us with open arms and have been amazingly hospitable."

Soldiers took refuge in Regional Counterdrug Training Academy and Navy Gateway Inns and Suites facilities before enjoying a meal at the Roy M. Wheat Galley.

"The men and women of NAS Meridian are proud of this and all opportunities to assist Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines in need, said Capt. Charles C. Moore ll, commanding officer, NAS Meridian. "In this case it truly was supporting the warfighter from the shore as this unit of the 82nd Airborne is deploying very soon. I am sure the Airborne appreciated NAS Meridian's enthusiastic hospitality."

These particular Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne are set to deploy to Afghanistan in less than three weeks and all of them were eager to get home.

"Road conditions were pretty extreme," said Sgt. Jorrel Persaud, a 504th paratrooper. "I'm from the South and I know that many drivers aren't experienced in inclement weather. I don't foresee us making it to Ft. Bragg in good time, but we'll get there. I have a wife and three children that I have been away from for a few weeks now and, given our upcoming deployment, I can't wait to make it home. It was great to get off that road, NAS Meridian was a welcome sight."

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