Shaw AFB, SC Image 1
    Shaw AFB, SC Image 2

    Shaw AFB, SC History

    Shaw Air Force Base was activated as Shaw Field in August 1941, as the site of the Army Air Corps Basic Flying School, named for 1st Lt. Ervin David Shaw. Lt. Shaw was a US pilot who, while returning from a reconnaissance mission in France, during World War One, was attacked by three enemy fighter planes, and shot one of them down before being himself shot down.

    Shaw Field was actively flying training classes two months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the first class of trainees finished Phase II training only two months after the attack. These early trainee pilots trained in the Vultee BT-13 Valiant "Vibrator," known for considerable shaking at stall speed, and canopy under high-G loads, and for transmitting a sympathetic pitch to ground windows during close-to-deck flight, making the window glass vibrate. In October 1942 training at Shaw was changed to Advanced training, flying AT-6 Texan and Beech A-10 trainers. More than 8,600 pilots graduated from Shaw training over the course of the war. Shaw also served, briefly, as a camp for German POWs, housing about 175 prisoners, who worked in local farms before relocation to Europe in 1946.

    Shaw Field was designated a permanent Army Air Corps facility in 1946, and repeatedly transferred between commands in the later 1940s. Several units also transferred through, including the 414th and 415th Night Fighter Squadrons, and the 20th Fighter-Bomber Wing, today the 20th Fighter Wing, host unit at Shaw AFB. Shaw became an Air Force Base with the separation of Army and Air Force in 1947. In 1949 the 20th Fighter Wing was activated at Shaw, and transferred to other bases within a few years.

    In the 1950s Shaw AFB became home of the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, parent unit of an operational group. and a training group for tactical reconnaissance aircrew. From the 1950s to 1990s most tac-recon aircrew in the USAF were trained at Shaw, in various units.

    1953 saw the transfer of Headquarters, Ninth Air Force, to Shaw AFB, where it remains as the United States Air Forces Central. Shaw is also home for the new Ninth Air Force, created in 2007.

    In 1991 the 363rd Tactical Fighter Wing (then the name of the unit) was one of the first units dispatched to Operation Desert Shield, the operation to check the expected advance of Iraq into Saudi Arabia, following the invasion of Kuwait.

    The 2000s saw a general reorganization of the Air Force, and the 363rd was inactivated, with many of the 363rd's functions assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing, reassigned to Shaw AFB again, four decades after relocating elsewhere. In the same reorganization Shaw gained a tenant unit, the Third US Army Headquarters, today the US Army Central.