Military Wiki
H. Hugh Shelton
General Henry H. Shelton, U.S. Army
Born January 2, 1942(1942-01-02) (age 80)
Place of birth Tarboro, North Carolina
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Rank General
Commands held Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Special Operations Command
XVIII Airborne Corps
82nd Airborne Division
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Gulf War
Operation Uphold Democracy
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal (4)
Army Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Bronze Star (4, with "V" Device)
Combat Infantryman Badge
Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge
Special Forces Tab
Ranger Tab
Congressional Gold Medal
Other work Chairman, Board of Directors, Red Hat Corporation
Director, Anheuser Busch
Director, Anteon International
Director, Protective Products of America (PPA.TO)

General Henry Hugh Shelton (born January 2, 1942)[1] is a retired American career military officer of the United States Army. He served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001.

Early life, family and education

Born in Tarboro, North Carolina, Shelton was raised just outside the small town of Speed, North Carolina. North Carolina Highway 122, which runs through Speed to Hobgood, North Carolina (right past the homestead he was raised on), was later named "General Henry Hugh Shelton Hwy" in his honor.[2] Shelton attended North Carolina State University[1] and was a member of Pershing Rifles. He earned a degree in textile engineering[1] while earning his Army commission through ROTC training. Shelton's further education includes a master's degree in political science from Auburn University at Montgomery[1] in 1973 as well as studies at the Air Command and Staff College and the National War College.[3] Shelton married Carolyn L. Johnson in 1963 and have three sons together.[3] In 2002 he underwent spinal surgery.[4]

Military service

Shelton served two tours of duty in Vietnam[1] with the 5th Special Forces Group, and with the 173rd Airborne Brigade,[4] followed by a series of command and staff assignments. Following the Gulf War, Shelton commanded the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in his home state of North Carolina.[1] In 1993, he was given command of XVIII Airborne Corps.[1] Shelton led the Joint Task Force responsible for Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti in 1994.[4] In 1996, Shelton, a Special Forces soldier, was promoted to the rank of General and the position of Commander in Chief of United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

Upon the retirement of John M. Shalikashvili, Shelton was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1, 1997.[5] Shelton led the planning of the Kosovo War in 1999 during his time in office. Later during his time in that office he coined the phrase "Dover test", testing the support for a war based on the reaction of the people after seeing American casualties returning at the Dover Air Force Base.[6] During the events of September 11, 2001, Shelton was on a plane traveling to a NATO meeting in Europe, but turned back and returned to Washington.[7] Upon Shelton's end of term, President George W. Bush nominated then-Vice Chairman Air Force General Richard Myers who was sworn in on October 1, 2001.

Post-military career

In his retirement, Shelton joined the Board of Directors of Red Hat Corporation in April 2003, and was elected that board's chairman in 2010.[8][9] He also holds directorships at Anheuser Busch, Anteon International and Protective Products of America (PPA.TO).

Shelton also served as an advisor to Senator John Edwards' presidential campaign from 2003-2004.[10] Shelton created a minor controversy for 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark, a subordinate to Shelton during the 1999 Kosovo military actions, when he stated: "I will tell you the reason [Clark] came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. […] I'll just say Wes won't get my vote," casting doubt upon the presidential contender's legitimacy.[10][11]

On March 1, 2008, General Shelton announced his endorsement of Senator Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary, stating, "I’ve been with Senator Clinton when she has been with our military men and women. I know from those experiences that she understands the demands and sacrifice of military life. I am confident she will always put the readiness and well being of our troops first. She is ready to be Commander-in-Chief." General Shelton was the second Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to endorse Senator Clinton, the first being General John Shalikashvili.[12]

On October 12, 2010, General Shelton published his autobiography, "Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior", along with coauthors Ron Levinson and Malcolm McConnell.[13] An excerpt tells the story of a high-ranking Cabinet member proposing that General Shelton intentionally allow an American pilot to be killed by the Iraqis to have an excuse to retaliate and go to war.[14] The book also tells of Bill Clinton's tearful confession to General Shelton;[15] a time during the Clinton administration when a close Clinton aide lost possession of the "biscuit" (top secret presidential nuclear launch authorization codes);[16] details of a contentious Camp David meeting among President George W. Bush and his National Security Council immediately after 9/11, where internal battle lines were drawn.[17] His book also says there were multiple attempts to kill Osama bin Laden that were shot down by Madeleine Albright. On August 27, 2010, a statue of General Shelton was unveiled and dedicated at the Airborne Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC. The statue was commissioned and donated by H. Ross Perot.[18]

On October 24, 2010, General Shelton appeared on This Week with Christiane Amanpour, on December 6, 2010 appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and on December 30, 2010 appeared on The Charlie Rose Show on PBS and Bloomberg TV, to promote the publication of his memoir Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior.[19]

On October 20, 2012, General Shelton was honored at the 6th Annual Brian & Kendra's Bluegrass Party in Speed, NC. He was presented with a Distinguished Achievements plaque and a road side display at the entrance of Speed, NC honoring General Shelton's home town and acknowledgement of his achievements.

Decorations and badges

General Shelton has been decorated for service, to include:

US Army Airborne master parachutist badge.gif
RangerTab TIoH.gif SpecialForcesTabMetal.jpg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Pathfinder.gif USAF - Occupational Badge - High Altitude Low Opening.svg
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg AirAssault.gif
United States Navy Parachutist Badge.png Springerabzeichen de.jpg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Badge Combat Infantryman Badge
Badge Master Parachutist Badge
Badge Ranger Tab Special Forces Tab
1st Row Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ 3 oak leaf clusters Distinguished Service Medal w/ 2 oak leaf clusters
2nd Row Awards Legion of Merit w/ 1 oak leaf clusters Bronze Star w valor device & 3 oak leaf clusters Purple Heart Meritorious Service Medal w/ 2 oak leaf clusters
3rd Row Awards Air Medal w/ "2" device Army Commendation Medal w/ 3 oak leaf clusters National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
4th Row Awards Vietnam Service Medal w/ 4 bronze service star Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Army Service Ribbon Army Overseas Service Ribbon
5th Row Awards Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ bronze star Vietnam Campaign Medal w/ "60" Device Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) Kuwait Liberation Medal
Badge Pathfinder Badge Military Free Fall Parachute Badge
Badge Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge Air Assault Badge
Badge Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia German Parachutist Badge in bronze
Unit Awards Presidential Unit Citation (United States)
Unit Awards US Navy Presidential Unit Citation Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ oak leaf cluster Meritorious Unit Commendation Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation w/ Palm


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Biography of Henry Hugh Shelton". Associated Press. 1994-09-21.,1649540&dq=hugh-shelton+1942&hl=en. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  2. "Who Did That Sign Say?" p. 4
  3. 3.0 3.1 Stout, David (1997-09-17). "Man in the News: Henry Hugh Shelton; General Who Sets Pace". Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Ex-Joint Chiefs chair undergoes spinal surgery". CNN. 2002-05-29. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  5. Stout, David; (1997) pg.1
  6. "Time to take the Dover test". CNN. 2003-11-03. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  7. "Larry King Live". 
  8. "General Hugh Shelton Elected Chairman of Red Hat Board of Directors". Red Hat, INc.. 30 August 2910. Retrieved 31 August 2010. 
  9. Alan M. Wolf (30 August 2010). "Red Hat names Gen. Shelton as chairman". News & Observer (Raleigh). Retrieved 31 August 2010. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Arkin, William (2003-12-07). "The General Unease With Wesley Clark". Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  11. "Los Altos Town Crier - Gen. Shelton shocks Celebrity Forum, says he won't support Clark for president". 2003-09-24. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  13. "General Hugh Shelton - News". 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2010-12-08. 
  15. "Bill Clinton Wept Over the Monica Lewinsky Scandal - Washington Whispers (". 2010-10-04. Retrieved 2010-12-08. 
  16. Lauren Frayer Contributor (1941-12-07). "General: Clinton Lost 'The Biscuit' - Nuclear Codes". Retrieved 2010-12-08. 
  17. Tencer, Daniel (2010-10-13). "Ex-top soldier: Iraq war ‘fiasco’ due to Rumsfeld’s ‘lies’". Raw Story. Retrieved 2010-12-08. 
  18. "100827-02 Gen. Hugh Shelton statue dedicated at ASOM". 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2010-12-08. 
  19. "Gen. Shelton On Jon Stewart: Extended Interview With Opinions On WikiLeaks, Iran, DADT". 2010-12-07. Retrieved 2011-01-03. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
John Shalikashvili
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
Richard Myers

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