Howell Shaw at Sedalia Army Air Field

William H. “Howell” Shaw was born in 1925, a son of Chester Clyde Shaw and Golie Lee Gaskins. He was a grandson of Lacey Lester Shaw, of Ray City, GA.

Howell Shaw’s father, Clyde Shaw, grew up in Ray City, GA where as a young man he was a “collector” for the telephone company in  the 1920s. His mother, Golie Gaskins, also a native of Ray City, was a daughter of William Thomas Gaskins and Vinie Ellen Hall.

Howell Shaw was first enumerated in the census of 1930, when he was five years old.  At that time his family was living in Valdosta, GA in a rented house on North Alley Street. His father was employed as a bakery salesman.

Within a few years Howell’s parents moved the family back to Ray City, where Howell spent the rest of his childhood.

As a young man, Howell Shaw found his way to Orlando, Florida where he worked for the Orlando Steam Laundry.

1929 sketch of the Orlando Steam Laundry company, Orlando, FL.

1929 sketch of the Orlando Steam Laundry company, Orlando, FL. Image source:

On May 15, 1943 eighteen year old Howell Shaw joined the United States Army as a private. He eventually was stationed at Sedalia Army Air Field in Missouri.

Greetings From Sedalia Army Air Field Vintage Postcard

There, in January of 1944,  William Howell Shaw made the rank of Private First Class. The achievement was noted in the January 17, 1944 edition of the Valdosta Daily Times:

William H. Shaw Gets Promotion

William H. Shaw Gets Promotion

Sedalia Army Air Field had its beginnings in 1942 when US Army Air Corps officials selected the Missouri site as a training base for WACO glider pilots. Following an intensive construction project the field officially opened three months later on August 6, 1942.

In November 1942, the installation became Sedalia Army Air Field and was assigned to the XII Troop Carrier Command of the Army Air Force. The field served as a training site for glider tactics and paratroopers. It was one of the eight bases in the United States dedicated to training glider pilots for combat missions performed by the Troop Carrier Command. Pilots flew  C-47 transports and the Waco CG-4A. The forest green, fabric-covered gliders could carry 15 fully equipped men or a quarter-ton truck plus a smaller crew. They were towed in either single or double tow behind the transport aircraft and could land on fields not equipped for larger aircraft.

The 99th Trooper Carrier Squadron was activated on August 1, 1943 at Sedalia Army Air Field in Missouri. The squadron’s first combat mission was to drop members of the 101st Airborne Division into France on D-Day as part of the June 6, 1944 assault on Normandy.

Other Ray City men in the Army Air Force included B-26 Marauder pilot James Swindle, B-24 Liberator pilot Max Maurice Johnson, and flying officer Jim Paulk.  Sgt. Mitchell Moore was assigned  to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron, 491st Bomber Group, flying as a crewman on a B-24 Liberator. Charles Shaw was sent to the 96th Bomb Group, 8th Army Air Force, stationed at Snetterton Heath, England where he joined the crew of the B-17 Mischief Maker II. William C. Webb served in the Medical Corps of the Army Air Force. Lt. Jamie Connell, of Nashville, served as a  navigator-bombardier. Saunto Sollami served in the Army Air Corp and came to the area after the war.

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