Salute to the Military honors those who protect America - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Salute to the Military honors those who protect America

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

For one special night Tuesday, the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center housed a room full of heroes: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen, all men and women who've helped bring democracy to Iraq. They do a mighty work, but even heroes can't do it alone.

Take Ingalls shipyard for example. The South Mississippians who work there build the tools needed to assist the U.S. Navy with its mission in Iraq.

"We'll stack our ships up with any of them in the world," one shipyard worker said. "We build the best ships, for the best navy."

Before the 33rd Annual Salute to the Military, Navy Chief of Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert toured the Pascagoula shipyard. There, he met the men and women who help build America's Naval fleet.

"They build our big deck amphibious ships, they build our LPD class, our San Antonio class and they build our destroyers. Those are key and critical parts. So it's a centerpiece for our surface ship future," Greenert said.

The tour was a chance for Ingalls to show off its impressive shipyard. It also allowed Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker to emphasize how big of a role Ingalls continues to play in America's military operations.

"What we're building here at Huntington Ingalls will go a long way toward helping us maintain our sphere of influence in the Pacific and keep America strong and able to project power when we need to," Sen. Wicker said.

After the tour, the Admiral donned his dress uniform, and gave the keynote address at the Salute to the Military dinner in Biloxi. He, again, expressed his tremendous appreciation for the tireless efforts of our troops.

According the Journal of South Mississippi Business, an estimated 18,000 military and civilian employees work at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi and the Seabee Base in Gulfport. Countless others are members of the Coast Guard, and the National Guard. An additional 60,000 military retirees live on the coast. The estimated economic impact of just the two bases is $1.5 billion.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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