Marine Corps Air Station
"Fightertown" is what the nearly 4,000 Marines and sailors assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 31 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort call the 6,900acre facility. MAG-31 is one of the world's largest air raft groups.
The facility was commissioned in 1943 as Naval Air Station Beaufort. During World War II, the base provided advanced training and operated antisubmarine patrols that were stationed along the southeastern seaboard of the United States. Naval Air Station Beaufort was decommissioned in 1946 and reactivated a decade later as a Marine Corps Auxiliary Airfield. In 1960, it was re-designated Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
The base's 3.9-million-square-foot airfield was named Merritt. Field, in honor of South Carolina native Maj. Gen. Louis G. Merritt, USMCR, in 1975. The airfield's runways, taxiways and aprons have been used widely for national and international training exercises and operations. Merritt Field is an alternate landing site for the space shuttles.
Fightertown pilots train for air-to-ground combat at nearby Townsend Bombing Range in Townsend, GA. The 5,200-acre range is controlled by Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and managed by the Georgia Air National Guard.
Several Marine squadrons are stationed at the Beaufort facility. They include combat engineer, utilities, heavy equipment, motor transport and construction sections.
Beaufort County is home to nearly 10,000 military members, their families and civilian employees.
Naval Hospital Beaufort
Located halfway between the Marine Corps Air Station and Parris Island, the Naval Hospital Beaufort has been serving the military community since 1949. The hospital, which is situated along the Beaufort River, occupies 127 acres of land that is steeped in Lowcountry history.
The Naval Hospital is made up of the naval base and two branch medical clinics; one of which operates at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island and the other at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
The hospital serves all active-duty Navy and Marine Corps personnel, retired military personnel and all military families in the Beaufort area. Health-care services provided at the Naval Hospital include anesthesia, audiology, aviation medicine, dermatology, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, physical therapy, mental health, internal medicine, optometry, radiology, podiatry, occupational health, preventive medicine, emergency medicine and acute care, oral/maxillofacial surgery, social services, family practice, sports medicine, wellness center, gastroenterology and mammography.
An important part of the Naval Hospital is the residential~ facilities: 53 family housing units and two bachelor enlisted quarters (for up to 190 residents). Nearby are a Navy Exchange retail store, optical shop, barber and beauty shop, vending machines, gas station and convenience store. The area is served by its own fire rescue division and public works facility.
For fun, residents can choose from a variety of recreational activities on the grounds: softball fields, swimming pool, lighted tennis and basketball courts, outdoor fitness court, fishing pier, children's playground, picnic area with sheltered barbecue sites and The Heritage, a consolidated club.