On Friday, July 11, the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Military Enhancement Committee, Military Affairs Committee, and the city of Beaufort partnered to host the F-35 Community Welcome Celebration in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
The event was a celebration to officially welcome the Marines and their families with the first F-35B Joint Strike Fighter Squadron, VMFAT-501, to Beaufort.
“After years of supporting efforts to recruit the fifth generation aircraft to Beaufort, we were thrilled to welcome the Warlords back to Beaufort,” said Blakely Williams, Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.
Nearly 3,000 people packed the park for music from the Parris Island Marine Band, free entertainment for the kids, watermelon, hot dogs, a patriotic ceremony, and spectacular fireworks.
As part of the ceremony, the city of Beaufort presented a special proclamation to VMFAT-501 in their honor. “The Warlords are humbled by the outpouring of community support during this past Friday’s event on the waterfront,” said Lt. Col. Joseph “Ty” Bachmann. “The event was a lot of fun, and a perfect homecoming for the Marines of VMFAT-501 back to their permanent home in Beaufort. The Warlord family is looking forward to continuing its relationship with the best small town in America. Semper Fi.”
Organizers would like to thank all of those who helped make the event possible, from individual and business sponsors, to the many dedicated organizations and volunteers who rolled up their sleeves.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the Beaufort community for stepping up to the plate to help us put on this celebration as we welcomed the Marines and their families with VMFAT-501 to our community,” said Williams. “The crowd and support Friday evening was a true testament to Beaufort’s commitment to our military and their families.”
Col. Peter D. Buck, Commanding Officer of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, said, “I am confident I speak for MCAS Beaufort and all Marines and sailors, past and present, when I say the support shown by the community at Friday’s welcome home for VMFAT-501 was truly overwhelming. The longstanding community support here in Beaufort is truly unique. The ‘ordinary’ in Beaufort is nothing short of extraordinary. There’s an intangible synergy between the Tri-Command and the community that creates an effect that is greater than the individual parts. This was truly evident on Friday evening as the community welcomed home the Warlords of 501. On behalf of the Marines, sailors and civilians of MCAS Beaufort, thank you for the community’s support in the past, present and future.”
Photos by Captured Moments Photography