our why

national defense

The United States Marine Corps has been a part of every military conflict the United States has participated in dating back to the Revolutionary War. While their training and equipment has changed throughout the last several hundred years, the Marine’s core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment to national defense have remained steadfast. The training needed to prepare Marines for what is required as part of the National Defense Strategy begins in Beaufort. Whether they are one of the nearly 20,000 new recruits trained at Parris Island annually or part of the latest crop of F-35 aviators enhancing joint operations capabilities – the necessary indoctrination takes place here where there is no better training environment. From completing every task of the Crucible to daily F-35 missions over the military training ranges free from encroachment, Beaufort County and the community must remain home to the Marine Corps.


Beaufort is steeped in military history with Port Royal being a critical asset for both Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War. There is no place with as rich of a military history as MCRD Parris Island which is rightfully known as the Cradle of the Corps. MCRD Parris Island became the primary training grounds for the Marines in 1915 and is the Marine Corps second oldest post. Throughout the past 105 years over one million enlisted recruits have passed through Parris Island including every single female Marine up until one year ago. The adopted slogan of ‘We Make Marines’ is appropriate given Parris Island’s long, distinguished history.

Economic impact

While the MEC is proud of its military history and Beaufort’s role in directly supporting national defense, our relationship with the Department of Defense is mutually beneficial. Based on a 2022 economic impact study of South Carolina’s military community, it was estimated that the military is responsible for $2.5 billion in annual economic impact that is supported by 21,241 jobs. These impacts are significant, especially when compared to the more recognized tourism and hospitality economy which is estimated to have a $1.4 billion annual economic impact supported by 14,140 jobs. Stated quite plainly, the defense economy contributes heavily to the overall economy and would have a significant impact to the Beaufort region if it were to shrink or go away all together through Base Realignment and Closure.

mcas beaufort

Employment: 7,253
Labor Income: $373.5 million
Economic Impact: $787 million

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is the home of the Marine Corps’ Atlantic Coast fixed-wing, fighter-attack aircraft assets.



Employment: 6,130
Labor Income: $344.3 million
Economic Impact: $739.8 million

The Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island has trained enlisted males since 1915, and enlisted females since 1949. Marines have trained on the Depot during each major conflict of the 20th and 21st century.


Employment: 1,519
Labor Income: $103.7 million
Economic Impact: $217.4 million

In operation since 1949, Naval Hospital Beaufort consists of the hospital and two Branch Health Clinics — one at MCRD Parris Island, and the other at MCAS Beaufort.

The Military Enhancement Committee (MEC) of Beaufort County Support Fund is a charitable fund administered by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. Its mission is to enhance the quality and value of the military installations of Beaufort County, namely, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Naval Air Station Beaufort, and Beaufort Naval Hospital. The MEC seeks to defend these installations against any threats like closure or natural disaster, while also positioning them for enhancement through personnel, resources, and other opportunities that both benefit the Department of Defense and our region.