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Shooters ‘roll’ past centennial

Veterans traveled from across the country for the Shooter Centennial Celebration, which honored the unit’s 100 years of service

U.S. Air Force veterans previously assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron (FS) look at a 55th FS commander booklet during a reunion banquet at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 24, 2017. The banquet featured unit memorabilia as well as an F-16CM Fighting Falcon and P-51 Mustang static display. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

Veterans traveled from across the country for the Shooter Centennial Celebration, which honored the unit’s 100 years of service

A U.S. Air Force veteran previously assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron takes a picture while a 20th Fighter Wing maintainer tests the engine of an F-16CM Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 25, 2017. During the alumni tour, veterans received an opportunity to look inside an F-16 and experience its power during an engine run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

Veterans traveled from across the country for the Shooter Centennial Celebration, which honored the unit’s 100 years of service

U.S. Air Force Capt. Chris Jeffers, 55th Fighter Squadron (FS) F-16CM Fighting Falcon pilot, shows Daniel Clark, 55th FS veteran, the inside of an F-16 cockpit at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 25, 2017. During the alumni tour, 55th veterans who flew and maintained various airframes, from the P-51 Mustang to the F-111 Aardvark, were briefed on F-16 capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

Veterans traveled from across the country for the Shooter Centennial Celebration, which honored the unit’s 100 years of service

U.S. Air Force retired Col. Joe Peterburs, previous 55th Fighter Squadron P-51 pilot, smiles after signing an aircraft mural in the 55th Aircraft Maintenance Unit building at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 25, 2017. Veterans traveled from across the country for the Shooter Centennial Celebration, which honored the unit’s 100 years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 55th Fighter Squadron, “Shooters,” hosted the Shooter Centennial Celebration Aug. 24-25, which included a reunion banquet, dedication ceremony and alumni tour.

The events brought together past and present Shooters to celebrate the unit’s historic 100-year milestone.

The veterans who attended the event are previous Shooters who still have unit pride and came back to see everyone and reunite because this is their family, said Capt. Chris Jeffers, 55th Fighter Squadron F-16CM Fighting Falcon pilot.

During the ceremony, 20th Fighter Wing leadership praised the unit’s Airmen and families who ensure the mission is accomplished in front of a historical marker dedicated to the Fighting Fifty-Fifth operators and maintainers of the past and future 100 years. The marker stands between the 55th FS and the 55th Aircraft Maintenance Unit buildings.

Veterans previously assigned to the 55th FS received the opportunity to see how the mission and aircraft have changed over the years during a tour through the 55th FS, AMU and Shaw’s flightline.

“The support, the enthusiasm, the maintainers, the fighter pilot magic is still there,” said retired Maj. Gen. Maury Forsyth, prior 55th FS commander. “That’s why it’s good for us to come back here 20 years later and see the same kind of enthusiasm and the same great people running the maintenance and the operations as a team.”

Although the airframe operated by the squadron has changed many times through the unit’s years of operations, some things have remained the same.

“Col. Piowaty (the banquet guest speaker) said it great last night: that war isn’t funny and it’s not fun, but we have to do it,” said Jeffers. “That’s what they did 40-50 years ago and we still do today. Airframes change, weapons systems get more advanced, but it’s still the same mission so we can still relate to them and the culture and camaraderie is still the same as it was 40 years ago.”

The centennial events provided opportunities for generations of Shooters to come together, reflect on their unit’s past and present as well as look toward the future.