Shaw Air Force Base named for Sumter pilot

Posted 7/8/18

Reflections remembers Lt. Ervin D. Shaw, who was killed on July 9, 1918, during World War I. He and his gunman were on a mission to locate troops, guns and equipment behind German lines. His plane was attacked by three enemy scout planes and shot …

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Shaw Air Force Base named for Sumter pilot

Shaw Air Force Base was named for Lt. Ervin D. Shaw, who was killed 100 years ago during World War I.
Shaw Air Force Base was named for Lt. Ervin D. Shaw, who was killed 100 years ago during World War I.
SUMTER ITEM FILE PHOTO
Posted

Reflections remembers Lt. Ervin D. Shaw, who was killed on July 9, 1918, during World War I. He and his gunman were on a mission to locate troops, guns and equipment behind German lines. His plane was attacked by three enemy scout planes and shot down, killing both Shaw and his gunner. This daring young man, who died 100 years ago, has left a legacy including having Shaw Air Force Base named in his memory. The information used to prepare this article was taken from The Sumter Item archives. Photos were made available by Ervin Shaw, nephew and namesake of Ervin D. Shaw. The following article was published in the Sumter Daily Item shortly after the naming of Shaw Air Force Base and is being reprinted with a modicum of editing.

"First Lt. Ervin David Shaw, son of Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Shaw, was born Sept. 30, 1894, in Alcolu, about 15 miles south of Sumter. His parents moved to Sumter while he was attending grade school. Lt. Shaw attended Sumter High School, graduating with the class of 1911, and went to Davidson College, and the University of Georgia.

"In September 1917, just before his 23rd birthday, Lt. Shaw enlisted in the Army and was commissioned in the Aeronautical Section of the Signal Corps. He was then sent to Columbus, Ohio, for aviation training. After finishing elementary training, Lt. Shaw went overseas early in 1918 with the American Expeditionary Force in Britain. In April 1918, he was attached to the RAF and took advance flight training at Oxford and in Scotland. Transferred to France late in May, Lt. Shaw was one of the first American flyers to get into action against the enemy after the U.S. declaration of war. He wrote home in June telling of his first victory. On July 9, 1918, Lt. Shaw was flying a solo reconnaissance mission behind German lines in a British Mo. B 1113 Bristol aircraft. Returning from deep inside enemy territory, he encountered three enemy scouts and was immediately engaged by them. In the ensuing combat, he destroyed one of the enemy aircraft, but his own ship was hit in the fuel tank and blew up in midair, killing Lt. Shaw and his gunman.

"A movement to name Sumter's new Army Airfield after Lt. Shaw was started at a reunion of his high school class in May 1941. The campaign was based on the fact that he was the first Sumter man to be killed in action and the only Sumter County aviator to die in combat. There were three candidates (all deserving the honor) with Shaw's name being selected by the War Department. Shaw Field (now Shaw Air Force Base) was activated in November 1941, and the first class of cadets arrived for basic flight training Dec. 15, 1941."