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Team Shaw honors history, renames road

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kelsey Tucker
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A cold, windy morning greeted members of Team Shaw and students from Shaw Heights and High Hills elementary schools as they gathered near an intersection in base housing for a road renaming ceremony, March 26.

The renaming was held to honor U.S. Army Air Services Major William Saunders, a World War I pilot from Dalzell, South Carolina.

Saunders was one of the first “suppression of enemy air defenses” operators, flying aerial reconnaissance and diversion missions, said Senior Master Sgt. Brandy Hill, 20th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor.

As the commander of the U.S. Army Air Service’s 12th Aero Squadron, Saunders always ensured that the mission came first, said Jim Olsen, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron community planner.

“In the 20th FW we really value TC3O: toughness, competence, character, courage and ownership, and Major Saunders exemplified all five of those characteristics,” said Olsen.

Saunders was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with the 12th AS. He later went on to receive the Silver Star for actions in another campaign.

As of this ceremony, all three roads that enter the base now stand as memorials to Airmen from the Shaw-Sumter community: Shaw Drive, Ashley-Bowman Boulevard, and the newly designated Saunders Boulevard.

“We have quite a few other memorialization-type activities planned for Shaw to help build and instill the heritage that we have here,” said Hill.

Shaw’s memorialization committee, headed by Olsen, looked at not only roads for naming; other possible focuses included buildings, classrooms and a planned running trail around the base perimeter.

“Our first South Carolina state historical marker went up this last fall, when the 55th Fighter Squadron celebrated its 100th anniversary,” said Olsen. “This June we have three more markers planned: the 100th anniversaries of the 77th and 79th FS, and a marker for the 14 Airmen in 1963 who forced (racial) integration of the schools in Sumter school district, which ultimately led to all of the schools in South Carolina being integrated.”

Although the 20th FW continues to advance to face the next fight, it also honors its heritage and pays tribute to the legacy of those who came before to set the groundwork for success.