Victory by Valor: Shaw Air Force Base - History of Shaw
Mike Gartland continues to relay the history of Shaw Air Force Base. In World War II, the mission was to teach pilots to fly airplanes. The first aircraft that the 20th used there was the P51 Mustang. Toward the end of World War II, there was a Prisoner of War camp for German prisoners and there were three watchtowers. In 1946, the 20th Fighter Wing came to Shaw Air Force Base. The Korean War kicked off in June 1950, and in July 1950, they deployed fighters to England where a third of our bombers were stationed to deter the Soviet Union from expanding to a wider conflict. The 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing became host unit at Shaw in 1951. In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred, and they deployed a squadron of reconnaissance aircraft to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. The President needed confirmation of the missile sites going up in Cuba. Shaw had the low-level aircraft that could take the pictures and show the detail. President Kennedy commended the men for contributing "as much to the security of the United States as any group of men in our history." In the mid- to late-'60s, the Air Force maintained a state of readiness, as deployment to Southeast Asia became inevitable. There were permanent units stationed in Vietnam and crews rotated into the theater throughout this period. World focus began to shift to Southwest Asia by the 1990s. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, a lot of units from the U.S. deployed to Saudi Arabia, and the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing deployed two squadrons in the very first hours of that deployment. In 1994, the 20th Fighter Wing was reconstituted at Shaw and was active in Northern and Southern Iraq, enforcing no-fly zones. They also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.