The complete base guide to Shaw AFB

Jessica Evans
Updated onDec 12, 2022 10:55 PM PST
5 minute read
shaw afb pt

Airmen assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing perform group push-ups. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Madeline Herzog)


Are you heading to Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina? If you are, you’re in for a treat! Shaw…

Are you heading to Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina? If you are, you’re in for a treat! Shaw is located near Columbia, SC, and just two hours from Myrtle Beach. Shaw is one of the largest military bases in the country and Sumter, now the eighth largest city in South Carolina, has a number of museums and other fun activities for you and your family to enjoy. Here's an overview of all the military bases in South Carolina. Read on to learn more about Shaw Air Force Base and living in Sumter, South Carolina.

Shaw Air Force Base Location

Shaw Air Force Base is located in Sumter, South Carolina, which is about 35 miles outside of Columbia, SC.


Shaw AFB can be reached by car using the following routes.

Coming in from the north? Take 1-95 S and follow signs.

Heading up from South Georgia or Florida? Take I-95 N to US-15 N and follow signs.

Making the trek from the West? Take I-40 E to I-55 S, then I-20 E to I-77N; take SC-768 E and follow signs.

Coming over from the Coast? Take US-378 W and follow signs.


Flying to the closest airports: Columbia Metropolitan Airport, Charleston International Airport

Columbia Metropolitan Airport (42.1 miles) is the closest airport and is served by 3 major airlines.

Charleston International airport (97.4 miles) is the closest international airport.

Gates and Hours

There are four gates at Shaw AFB.

Main Gate - Open 24/7, where the Visitors Center is located. The VCC is open Monday – Friday, 0730 – 1630.

441 Gate (formerly Rhodes) - Open Monday – Friday, 0600-2200

Sumter (East) Gate - Open Monday – Friday, 0600 – 1800

Frierson School (North) Gate - Only open teacher workdays, Monday – Friday, 0630 – 1630

A U.S. Air Force F-16CM Fighting Falcon flies over Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 6, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Cossaboom)

Contacts at Shaw Air Force Base

20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs (803) 895-2019

Army and Air Force Exchange Service (803) 666-3050/3051/3168

Base Operator/Information (803) 895-1110

Carolina Pines Inn (803) 895-3803

Chaplain (803) 895-1106

Child Development Center (803) 895-2247

Command Post (803) 895-5850

Commissary (803) 895-1281/2/3, ext. 301

Education Center (803) 895-1838

Equal Opportunity (803) 895-1265

Family Childcare Coordinator (803) 895-1212

Fitness Center (803) 895-2789

Housing Office (803) 895-2421

Legal Office (803) 895-1560

Preschool Enrichment Program (803) 895-2247

Recreation Supply and Equipment Rental (803) 895-0449/0450

SARC (803) 895-7272

School Liaison Office (803) 895-1252

Shaw Airmen and Family Readiness Center (803) 895-1252

Unaccompanied Housing (803) 895-5627

Mission and Units

Shaw Air Force Base was formed with a mission to fly, fight, and win. The base supports and provides combat-ready forces and recruits for international deployments supporting U.S. national defense policies, operating in air, space, and cyberspace.


The main unit at Shaw AFB is the 20th Fighter Wing, which supports more than 20 mission partners and tenants across both North and South Carolina.

The 55th Fighter Squadron, 77th Fighter Squadron, and 79th Fighter Squadron are all housed at Shaw AFB.

Also at Shaw AFB are:

  • The 15th Air Force – responsible for training Airmen to deliver combat airpower worldwide
  • The 9th Air Force – the air component of the United States Central Command (responsible for the air operations and contingency plans in Southwest Asia)
  • The 609th Air Operations Center – delivers air, space, and cyber power to bolster regional security and deter adversaries
  • The 25th Attack Group – provides MQ-9 Reaper crews the ability to train outside of combat missions
  • The 51st Intelligence Squadron – the Air Force’s only regional-aligned intelligence squadron
  • The 372nd Training Squadron – provides training on F-16 aircraft and munitions maintenance techniques
  • The 28th Operational Weather Squadron – provides weather information to Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Coalition warfighters
A pilot assigned to the 79th Fighter Squadron makes a hand symbol while taxiing on the flightline at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Feb. 2, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Madeline Herzog)

Shaw Air Force Base History

Shaw Air Force Base was originally established as a basic flying school and was designated as Shaw Field in August of 1941 after Sumter County resident First Lieutenant Ervin David Shaw, who was killed in action during World War I while flying a reconnaissance mission over France.

During WWII, Shaw trained more than 8,600 pilots, who fought in every combat theater. After the war, Shaw AFB initially hosted the 20th Fighter Group, followed by the Ninth Air Force and the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. In 1994, the 20th Fighter Wing became the host unit at Shaw AFB.

Shaw AFB is home to over 8,200 active-duty military members, as well as 1,200 civilian employees and 12,000 family members.

Things to Do Around Shaw Air Force Base


Comfort Suites (803) 469-0200

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Sumter, an IHG Hotel, (803) 469-4444

Tru by Hilton Sumter, (803) 469-9800

Food Scene

While barbecue is the official “State Picnic Cuisine” of South Carolina, there are plenty of other great food options in the Palmetto State. The closer you get to the coast, the easier it will be to find fresh, delicious seafood, but all over the state you’ll be able to enjoy Southern cuisine, from biscuits to peaches to grits (best as breakfast or a dinner like shrimp and grits) to boiled peanuts. In Sumter, you’ll want to try seafood dishes, and in nearby Columbia you’ll find plethora of BBQ, burger joints, pimento cheese, and other comforting Southern foods. Be sure to enjoy some of the farm-to-table restaurants in Columbia and don’t forget to stop for some ice cream at Sweet Cream Co. on Main Street.


The South Carolina State Museum has four different museums on its campus — art, history, natural history, and science and technology. Spend the day experiencing everything from the planetarium to South Carolina history to a giant pre-historic megalodon shark replica.

Woods Bay State Park is 1,590 acres and features a wide range of habitats including marsh, sandhills, oak-hickory forest, and shrub bog. The park includes nature trails, a 1,150-foot boardwalk, and a canoe trail.

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is home to 2,000 animals in habitat. Sitting along the banks of the Lower Saluda River, these 170-acres also house a growing State Botanical Garden.

Wondering about the history of Fort Sumter? Here’s what happened when South Carolina seceded from the United States in 1860.

Maj. Renee, 25th Attack Group clinical psychologist, smiles for a portrait during a women’s symposium at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, June 1, 2022. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Senior Airman Madeline Herzog)

Housing at Shaw AFB

Like all DoD installations, there are several options when it comes to housing at Shaw AFB.

First, unaccompanied Airmen ranks E1 – E3 and E4s with less than three years of service live in the barracks. You’ll get a private sleeping room and a shared kitchen/bathroom. There’s also a common space to hang out and relax.

Hunt Military Communities owns and manages housing on base. There are over 600 homes to choose from and each has its own floor plan and amenities. Most are quite large, ranging from over 1,700 square feet to 3,000 square feet. Of course, the best thing to do is call the Housing Office as soon as you receive orders to explore wait times and the current conditions on base.

Schools Near Shaw AFB

Though there aren’t any DoDEA schools on base, your mil-kids have two school options. First, if you live on base, your mil-kids will attend Sumter School District #2. If you live off base, your children will attend Sumter School District #17. Both are part of the larger Sumter School District. As soon as you have orders to Shaw, call the School Liaison Office to discuss enrollment requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

What county is Shaw AFB in?

Shaw AFB is in Sumter County, South Carolina.

Can pizza be delivered on Shaw AFB?

Yes! Delivery drivers will need to have completed a background check to gain access to the base (background checks are good for one year). During duty hours, delivery drivers will need to check-in at the Visitor Control Center. After duty hours and on weekends, delivery drivers can check-in at the Main Gate.

How far is Chicago from Shaw AFB?

Chicago is 857 miles northwest of Shaw AFB.

What jets and planes are at Shaw AFB?

At Shaw AFB you’ll find the F-16C Fighting Falcon Block 50 Model, which is flown by the 20th Fighter Wing and all three squadrons located at Shaw.


Sign up for We Are The Mighty's newsletter and receive the mighty updates!

By signing up you agree to our We Are The Mighty's Terms of Use and We Are The Mighty's Privacy Policy.