Carriere native takes command of CRTC in Gulfport

Lieutenant Colonel Berry L. McCormick is the new commander of the Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) in Gulfport, Mississippi. McCormick enlisted in the Mississippi Air National Guard in 1988 as a Search Scope Operator with the 255th Tactical Control Squadron, in Gulfport, Miss. After graduating from Mississippi State University with a degree in electrical engineering, he was commissioned through the Academy of Military Science at McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee.

(Photo courtesy of USAF/CRTC)

McCormick served as a Weapons Director and Air Surveillance Officer Instructor/Evaluator with the 255th Air Control Squadron in Gulfport. He deployed various times including to South America in support of counterdrug operations, to Kuwait in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, and to seven locations in the continental United States as part of Operation NOBLE EAGLE. In May 2005, he assumed command of the 209th Civil Engineer Squadron based in Gulfport. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 to serve in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

In November 2010, he transferred to the 253rd Air Support Squadron, Meridian, Miss. where he served as the A7 Director. In June 2012, he returned to Gulfport to become commander of the 255th ACS. The next year he deployed to the United Arab Emirates as commander of the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron. McCormick transferred to the CRTC in September 2014 as the Director of Support and remained in that position until taking command of the CRTC in July of this year.

“What we do here at CRTC is very unique. Of the three Air National Guard units located here, the other two are operational units,” McCormick shared. ”Their job is to prepare the airmen assigned to them to go out and fight the war when deployed. We are a training facility, and our job is to make sure this base is prepared to receive units.”

McCormick added, “There are 90 wings throughout the Air National Guard. They are on a cycle that every three or four years requires them to demonstrate and exercise their ability to deploy and operate.”

Colonel Joe Reid transfers command of the CRTC to Lieutenant Colonel Berry McCormick

Photo courtesy of USAF/CRTC)

McCormick says in the past, the high operational tempo stemming from the War on Terror didn’t leave the 90 wings much time to travel to Gulfport and utilize the CRTC. Recently that has changed. With the possibility of threats on the horizon, the Air National Guard is reverting “back to basics”.

“We are in a transition right now, but it’s really a transition back to the way CRTC used to perform years ago,” McCormick said.

Additionally, the CRTC plays a large role in emergency operations during natural disasters. When hurricanes threaten South Mississippi, the CRTC hosts the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in an area set aside for domestic operations. MEMA officials run their Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from the CRTC’s EOC building. During Hurricane Katrina, McCormick said the CRTC served as a primary operations center for the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard, which had approximately 10,000 troops working the area. McCormick tells how the CRTC has a large ramp with abundant space for aircraft.

McCormick’s command at the CRTC consists of approximately 75 military personnel, 70 contractors and 120 state employees. He boasts of a vast array of state employees with varied skill sets like firefighters, security forces, electricians, carpenters, HVAC technicians, engineers, and food service workers.

“We have a lodging facility that has 480 rooms with 1,000 bed spaces. The housekeepers and the people who serve and maintain the facility are all state employees,” he said.

The two other units at the base are the 209th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron which has approximately 100 airmen and the 255th Air Control Squadron with roughly 180 airmen. Those units are not under his command but the CRTC does provide them with facility support.

The other units also have a Pearl River County flavor. Tyler Lee and Barrett Brayson are in the 209th SOCES, and McCormick has a son, a daughter and a son-in-law in the 255th ACS.

McCormick is a graduate of Pearl River Central High School and a native of Carriere where he currently resides with his wife Debra.

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