Beaufort celebrates arrival of F-35B Joint Strike Fighter Traini - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Beaufort celebrates arrival of F-35B Joint Strike Fighter Training Squadron, VMFAT-501

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BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) -

A community celebrated the arrival of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter Training Squadron, VMFAT-501.

The Beaufort Chamber of Commerce was responsible for Friday night's party.

They had food and drinks and entertainment for the children. The Parriss Island Marine Band also provided live entertainment.

This was truly a community wide event, with Marines helping out and volunteers from the Beaufort Water Festival also lending a hand, as well as people from the community also helping out to put this all together.

"The big celebration here in Waterfront Park is our way of welcoming all those Marines and their families to our community and letting them know that we support them, and we are excited to have them as part of our community," said Beaufort Chamber's Jaime Dailey.

The celebration started at 6 p.m. and was open to the public.

"It marks a milestone," said retired Marine Randy Gaddo. "Really a process that's lasted for many years trying to get this F-35 here."

The F-35b is considered to be the most technologically advanced aircraft.

It is the world's first supersonic aircraft, with the capability of short take off vertical landing.

About 180 Marines will make the transition from Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle to Beaufort to be part of the F-35B Program.

And judging by the crowd that showed up to Friday night's celebration, they have a lot of support, and not just from their fellow Marines, but from civilians as well.

"I really respect what they do, and unveiling a jet here is really a big event that doesn't happen too often, so I'm ready to hear a new sound of freedom here," said Milton Boswell.

"Without the Marine Corps here, the two places, there wouldn't be Beaufort," said Mrs. Holsopple.  

Residents like Holsopple and Boswell make being a Marine extra special for active duty Marines and the veterans.

"The community gives back to the military, for the Marines and families," said Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee Jimmy Boozer. "I've been here since 1982, and it's always been that way. Open arms and we love it." The F-35b hasn't arrived yet, but it's scheduled to get here within the next two weeks.

Beaufort is slated to receive at least two training squadrons and two operational ones, and Beaufort will be the only training ground for the F-35B, which won't just be used for America's national defense.

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