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Sumter mayor takes flight at Shaw

A photo of Airmen in a jet.

U.S. Air Force Col. Lawrence T. Sullivan, 20th Fighter Wing commander, prepares to fly David Merchant, Sumter mayor, in an F-16 Fighting Falcon familiarization flight at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Dec. 15, 2020. The mayor participated in a base immersion to learn the ongoing mission of the 20th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob Gutierrez)

A photo of a family.

David Merchant, Sumter mayor, stands with his family for a photo before a familiarization flight at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Dec. 15, 2020. The mayor participated in a base immersion to learn the ongoing mission of the 20th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob Gutierrez)

A photo of two people in flight suits.

David Merchant, Sumter mayor, receives a brief from U.S. Air Force Col. Lawrence T. Sullivan, 20th Fighter Wing commander, prior to a familiarization flight at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Dec. 15, 2020. The mayor participated in a base immersion to learn the ongoing mission of the 20th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob Gutierrez)

A photo of a man in a flight suit.

David Merchant, Sumter mayor, prepares for a familiarization flight at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Dec. 15, 2020. Merchant was on base for an immersion experience of the 20th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Sanders)

A photo of two people in the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

U.S. Air Force Col. Lawrence T. Sullivan, 20th Fighter Wing commander and David Merchant, Sumter mayor, perform pre-flight checks in an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Dec. 15, 2020. The mayor was given a familiarization ride during his immersion experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Sanders)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The Mayor of Sumter, South Carolina, got a familiarization flight during a base immersion at Shaw, Dec. 15.

David Merchant, recently elected as the Sumter mayor, participated in an in-depth overview of the mission capabilities of the 20th Fighter Wing.

“It’s important to sit in on the briefs and see the amount of time, effort and energy that goes into it and they do this every single day,” said Merchant. “It just gives a first-hand perspective of what the mission is and how many people it takes to make it happen here at Shaw.”

Merchant participated in training sessions with Egress, Aerospace Physiology and other units during his immersion. The visit culminated with a familiarization flight to see the 20th FW mission in action and Sumter from far above ground.


“We want to be able to share this mission with friends and neighbors who may not be as engaged with the Airmen,” said Merchant. “I can tell them why Shaw is such a valuable asset to our community.”

Ongoing partnership and coordination are primary 20th FW objectives, not only by providing support to Airmen and families but by directing that support to the surrounding community as well.

“We really value the relationship we have between Shaw AFB and Sumter, said Col. Lawrence T. Sullivan, 20th FW commander. “We want to be good neighbors and part of that is us understanding what the job is downtown and how we can help, and on the flip side having the new mayor here so he can see what we do at Shaw.”