Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, home of the Marine Corps' Atlantic Coast fixed-wing, fighter-attack aircraft assets, is located in the heart of the South Carolina Lowcountry and is among the United States military's most important and most historically colorful installations. Consisting of some 7,000 acres 70 miles southwest of Charleston, South Carolina on Highway 21, the installation is home to four Marine Corps F/A- 18 squadrons and two F-35B Fleet Replacement Squadrons. Two versions of the F/A-18 Hornet are found aboard MCAS Beaufort, the F/A-18C Hornet and the F/A-18D Hornet. The F-35B squadrons are the only locations in the world where pilots train to fly the F-35B. The squadron also trains the United Kingdom's future F-35B pilots and maintainers.
A proud tradition
The acreage occupied by the Air Station was formerly the site of several prominent Lowcountry plantations, including the Clarendon and Edgerly, Bull and Deveaux plantations. In 1779, during the Revolutionary War, British troops landed at what is now the Laurel Bay Housing area and battled American revolutionary troops at Gray's Hill. The Beaufort area was also a staging area for both Confederate and Union troops during the civil war and elaborate plantation homes still line Bay Street, overlooking the Beaufort River.
By June 15, 1943, the Civil Aeronautics Authority established Naval Air Station Beaufort as an auxiliary air station which supported advanced training of anti-submarine patrol squadrons which ensured the security of shipping along the Eastern seaboard.
Currently, the Fightertown family consists of more than 700 Marines and Sailors along with 600 civilian personnel who ensure approximately 3,400 personnel of Marine Air Group 31 and its component squadrons and tenant units are readily deployable.
Fightertown's Hornet squadrons rotate overseas regularly, either for deployments to support Operation Inherent Resolve, for six month Western Pacific deployments or aboard Navy aircraft carriers. At any given time, up to half the squadrons may be found at various points around the globe, and are routinely called into action when the Commander in Chief requires airborne strikes or support for ground forces. Most recently, squadrons have seen combat in the skies over Iraq and Syria.
On the home front, the installation has weathered installation closures in the post-cold War, and with the recognition of the growing role of air power in conflicts in the developing world.