Shaw AFB is currently one of the largest military bases in the United States of America. It is operated by the Air Force – more precisely, by the Air Combat Command. It is located in the central side of South Carolina, close to Sumter. The base is named in the memory of Ervin David Shaw, one of the first Americans who flew in World War I in official missions. The pilot was killed by three aircrafts that opened fire on his plane while he was getting back from a surveillance mission in the summer of 1918. Before being taken down, Shaw successfully managed to eliminate one of the enemies.
The base began by dealing with minor operations. It was established in 1941. Its main mission was to train and prepare cadets and pilots for the war missions of the upcoming World War II. In its first years, the base benefited from three runways and a few extra airfields close to them. The school classes started in the autumn of 1941. The first class joined it without the site to be entirely finished. However, it was fine enough to support the basic courses. The same class graduated in February, next year. One year later, in the autumn of 1942, the school was improved and the courses became advanced. Two new aircrafts were introduced – Beech AT 10 and AT 6 Texan. More than 8500 pilots graduated from the school during the war. In 1945, some of the base missions changed, as well as the host unit. At the same time, the base also became responsible for hosting the prisoners of war. The first prisoners were brought to the base in 1945 to work on the local farms. Next year, they were sent to Europe to repair the damage they did – they had to rebuild the European cities destroyed by the war. In 1947, many of them returned to Germany, while others decided to get back to the United States of America and become regular citizens.
As World War II reached to an end, Shaw AFB was turned into a permanent military base. Over the Cold War, it saw a lot of units joining and leaving it, as the objectives were constantly changing, not to mention about the operational forces. Over the last years, Shaw AFB is responsible for supporting the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions. After the 9/11 attacks, it dealt with the defense of the USA, while the Iraq invasion was actively supported by the units hosted on site.
Shaw AFB is currently hosting the 20-th Fighter Wing, responsible for operating the F 16CJ aircrafts. It includes four squadrons – the 55-th, 77-th and 79-th Fighter squadrons, as well as the 20-th Operations Support Squadron. Aside from the operations group, the unit also consists of the maintenance, medical and mission support groups.
Ideally, you should get in touch with the housing office at Shaw AFB from time, so you can complete the application early and get a home by the time you get there. The application depends on your family, rank and tasks. The less lucky individuals may use the privatized off site system.