News: Captain Shinto returns to Shaw
Story by Airman 1st Class Jensen Stidham
SUMTER, S.C. - Dr. John Shinto, a former U.S. Air Force captain who served here two years as a dentist for the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, visited here June 16.
“1967 and 1969 were two of the best years of my life,” said Shinto.
Though he joined the Air Force as a dentist, after graduating from New York University, Shinto’s first procedure had nothing to do with teeth.
“I showed up and the colonel told me to prepare for surgery,” said Shinto. “He said ‘I need you to take a look at the patient’s gall bladder’. I told him I was a dentist, but he didn’t care. So I did the surgery and afterwards he had me check the rest of the organs.”
With low manning during the Vietnam War he was expected to do more than just dentistry.
“I learned more in my two years at Shaw than I did in 40 years of practice,” said Shinto. “I did more in half an hour here than I would do in five appointments later on in my career.”
During his surprise visit to Shaw, set up by his wife Marlene Shinto, he toured the weapons standardization facility.
“After seeing the F-16CJ Fighting Falcon and all of its weapons, I am glad I’m not an enemy of the United States,” said Shinto.
Towards the end of his visit, he arrived at the 20th Dental Squadron for a tour of the building as well as a ‘Q&A’ with the dental staff.
“It was great listening to all of his stories,” said Tech. Sgt. Larry Owensby, 20th Dental Squadron clinical flight chief. “He told us about how dentistry has changed since he was here and about his overall experience in the Air Force.”
Shinto’s wife said he talks about his time in service almost every day.
“The Air Force set me up for a great career in dentistry,” said Shinto. “I am so glad I was stationed at Shaw and got to come back 45 years later.”