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On track to history; honoring our Shaw AFB locomotive

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kyrii Richardson
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

On Oct. 6, 2023, a locomotive dusted the rust off of its gears for its last ride off post, marking the first step towards becoming a historical relic, honoring the proud heritage of the 20th Fighter Wing and its critical role for the last 70 years.

Shaw Air Force Base as we know it today has a deeply rooted history involving the preexisting train tracks it was built over. Initially, this plot of land was used to train pilots during World War II. Over time, Shaw became the permanent home of the 20th Fighter Wing in 1993. Throughout the evolution of the base the railroad provided mission critical resources used to develop the infrastructure and complete the mission.

“We could not have done our job here at Shaw without using this locomotive to bring fuel in for almost 70 years,” said Adam McDowell, 20th Logistic Readiness Squadron locomotive engineer.   

The monument will be transported to The South Carolina Train Museum where it will be used as an interactive display. Special items like these help to show the impact of the various resources that go into performing the mission. “A simple train provided a critical factor for the base, it provided the jet fuel that ran all those aircraft for many years,” said James Henderson, 20th Logistic Readiness Squadron unit program manager.

Because of the hard work and dedication that McDowell put into these seasoned locomotives, they are still in working condition, despite having any new parts available. Shaw makes it a priority to maintain resources and equipment keeping them mission ready and postured to respond to any engagement.

20th Logistic Readiness Squadron, Kenneth Hubbard, privatized housing advocate said, people do not usually think about locomotives when they think about the U.S. Air Force. When people visit the museum they may recognize that the retired train belonged to Shaw, sparking conversation in the public, showcasing Shaw AFB history and scope of operations. 

As the Air Force's innovative efforts continue to push us forward outgrowing previous processes, recognizing how far we came encourages the uptempo of growth. The wing made it their duty to honor the service the locomotives have given the base and ensured that our nation's history is properly memorialized and celebrated.