Located only 5 kilometers away from the city with the same name in South Carolina, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is one of the multitude of military installations located around the city. Although this one is operated by the United States Marine Corps, most others are run by the United States Navy. The base is commanded by Colonel Brian Murtha. It hosts around seven squadrons and more than 4,200 military troops. The population is even higher if you count the civilian personnel and families on site.
MCAS Beaufort was part of the huge strengthening and updating process the United States of America went through prior and during World War Ii in an attempt to support the allied forces. The base was established on June, 15-th, 1943. Its primary mission was to support sophisticated training sessions for the anti submarine troops. Soon after Japan withdrew from World War II, the activity on site lost its initial intensity. In 1946, the authorities decided to shut down the facility as it was no longer needed. However, it was reactivated one decade later, in 1956. It was renamed to its current name in 1960. The local military airfield was also renamed 15 years later, in the memory of Lewie G. Merritt, one of the few Marines who served in both World War I and World War II. He spent more than three decades in the United States Marine Corps. Once he finished his career, he concentrated on practicing law. He passed away in 1974, one year before the airfield was named in his honor.
MCAS Beaufort spreads over 28 square kilometers, but its activities go way beyond the borders. The base benefits from two more training sites in Georgia – one for air to air training sessions and another one for air to ground courses. The air to ground site is located in McIntosh County. The installation is also served by the nearby Laurel Bay complex, which is only 5 kilometers away and hosts most housing facilities for the troops deployed there and their families.
These days, MCAS Beaufort has a clear mission. When it comes to civilian ceremonies and parades, the site hosts two annual air shows, which thousands of civilians and military officials attend. One of the air shows got to see a fatal crash in 2007. The base is often referred to by its nickname Fightertown East due to the huge amount of installations in the area. Other than that, some scenes of a movie from 1979 were also shot on site.
There are not too many units hosted at MCAS Beaufort. Some of the most important ones include the 273-th Wing Support Squadron, the 23-rd Combat Logistics Company, the 31-st Aircraft Group and the 86-th Strike Fighter Squadron. There are seven permanent squadrons deployed on site, along with a wide variety of associate tenants.
Aside from supporting the United States Marine Corps, MCAS Beaufort is also dealing with the MAG 31 squadrons hosted on site. Providing a high quality of life to its inhabitants is also one of the priorities.