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: http://orlandomemory.info/sites/default/files/documents/AlbertsonFloridaPrestologyJuly1929.pdf

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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1922 Spring Fever Hits Ray City

In these Valdosta Daily Times personal mentions from the spring of 1922, the Ray City news items were mostly about the social activities of the young people of the community.  An interesting note is the  mention of the Ray City Band and the musical troupe’s excursion to Valdosta, GA.

Valdosta Daily Times
April 6, 1922.

RAY CITY ITEMS

    Ray City, Ga., April 5. –Miss Eula Lee Connell and Miss Lilla Gaskins, accompanied by Miss Connell’s parents, spent Sunday with Mr. and Mrs. O. B. Connell, of Valdosta.
    Miss Gola Tom Gaskins was the guest of Miss Gola Flem Gaskins Saturday night and Sunday.  They were accompanied by Mr. Harvey Clements Sunday afternoon for an afternoon ride.
    Mr. Fred Williams was the company of Miss Inez Webb Sunday afternoon.
    Miss Eula Walden spent Sunday with Miss Mae Bowden.
    The Ray City band went to Valdosta Sunday afternoon for a concert with them.
    Mis Beulah Lee spent the weekend with Miss Jennie Watson.
    Miss Gola Tom Gaskins will be the guest of Miss Eula Lee Connell during the week-end of Easter.
    Mr. Grover Combs was a visitor to Miss Minnie Gaskins Saturday afternoon.
    Miss Mary Shaw and Miss Julia McClelland spent Saturday night and Sunday with Miss Mona Strickland.
    Mr. Albert Bradford was a visitor to Miss Rachel Wetherington last Saturday night.
    Mr. Adrian Williams was the visitor of Miss Ethelyn Terry Sunday night.

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Additional Notes

Eighteen year-old Lilla Gaskins, was a daughter of Daniel Jackson Gaskins and Sarah Elizabeth “Lizzie” Gray. The Gaskins made their home on Cat Creek Road in the Lois community. Lilla’s friend and neighbor, Eula Lee Connell, age 14, was a daughter of Clinton D Connell and Reedy M Connell.   That week, Lilla travelled with the Connells to visit their relatives, Mamie and Oscar B. Connell, in Valdosta, GA. Later, Lilla Gaskins would serve as the Berrien County Clerk of the Superior Court.

Another neighbor and cousin was sixteen year old Golie Gaskins, daughter of Mary E. and Flemming B. Gaskins. She was was visiting with another cousin of the same name and age who was the daughter of Linie and William Thomas Gaskins. Their companion was Harvey J. Clements, son of Henry Clements of Ray City.

Vida Inez Webb, of Ray City, was a daughter of James Alford Webb and Pearlie Ann Register. In 1922, she was being courted by Fred S. Williams of Cat Creek. They were married the following year.  Later, Vida Inez Webb married Perry Lee Pittman.

Mae Bowden was a daughter of Ressa and Hayne Bowden. The Bowdens had a home on Main Street in Ray City, where her father was a barber.

Beulah Lee was the 18 year old daughter of Wealthy Mathis and John A. Lee. They lived at Ray City on the  Willacoochee Road, on the farm of Beulah’s brother, Robert E. Lee. She spent the last weekend of March, 1922 with her friend Jennie Watson.  This may have been 18-year-old Jentis Watson, daughter of Samuel I. Watson who had a place on the Ray City & Mud Creek Road.

Miss Minnie Gaskins, another daughter of Daniel J. Gaskins and sister to Lilla Gaskins, was called upon by Grover Cleveland Combs, who would later own a restaurant in Valdosta.

Mona Strickland, 16 year-old daughter of John and Onnie Strickland of the Lois community near Ray City, entertained guests Julia McClelland, of Adel, and Mary Vera Shaw, of Ray City.

Rachel Wetherington was the 15-year-old daughter of Bell and Linton A Wetherington, of Cat Creek. Her visitor was Albert Bradford, a 19-year-old Gaskins cousin, son of the widow Maggie Gaskins Bradford, of Lois. His father, Mack Tally Bradford, died in 1919.

Ethelyn Terry was the 16-year-old daughter of Mary V. and Jack Terry. Her father had a farm on the Valdosta Road at Ray City, near the places of John W. Cowart, Mallie Shaw and Lewis W. Register. Ethelyn’s caller was Herman Adrian Williams of Cat Creek.

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