Shaw Air Force Base
Shaw Air Force Base is a United States Air Force facility located in the western region of Sumter, South Carolina. Its beginnings date back to 1941, when constructions started at Shaw Field for the future air base that would bear the name of 1st Lt. Ervin David Shaw. The lieutenant, born in Sumter County, was one of the pioneer Americans who flew combat missions in World War I and then died in battle.
The mission of the camp changed with the years. It started as a training school for cadets, thanks to the fact that it was one of the greatest flying fields in the US. Then, when the mission changed, Shaw Field became a camp for German prisoners of war for almost a year.
After the War World II, the 20th Fighter-Bomber Group established their headquarters here, and the name of the base changed to its current name. The jet age brought further development and an enlargement of the air base. Four pilots based here set the new transcontinental flight world record in 1957 with Operations Sun Run flight from California to New York
Later on, the squadrons of the air base had a tremendous role in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and were awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for their merits by President John F. Kennedy himself. The combat missions continued in the following years, with F-16 planes deployed in the Operation Desert Shields (1990) and Operation Desert Storm (1991).
From 1994, Shaw Air Force Base is the home of the 20th Fighter Wing and headquarters of the Ninth Air Force, whose missions are to ensure combat-ready air forces. The air base offers essential services to the community, through various activities, programs and facilities. These include library services, education, childcare, youth programs, family lodging, outdoor activities, equipment rental, fitness center, art center, commissary, collocated club, golf, and base exchange. For those coming in the region, the local businesses focus on shops, restaurants, movie theatres and outdoor recreation complexes. After being a prosperous agricultural region, Sumter has lately started to develop as an industrial area. The multitude of inn and hotels take advantage of the unique contrast between the older mansions and the modern facilities. The tombs of Revolutionary War Gen. Thomas Sumter and Joel Poinsett are two places of interest. Also attracting many visitors is the Swan Lake Iris Gardens, with various types of trees and flora. This is the only public park in US where all eight species of swans can be admired and which hosts the “Swan Lake Fantasy of Lights”, a light display during the holiday season. The Poinsett State Park is also located nearby, with a swamp, Sandhills, where atypical plants are to be found.