Hugh Shelton

Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry through the Reserve Officer Training Corps, he spent the next 37 years in a variety of command and staff positions in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Vietnam, serving two combat tours in Vietnam - the first with the 5th Special Forces Group, the second with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He also commanded the Third Battalion, 60th Infantry in the Ninth Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, served as the Ninth Infantry Division's chief of staff for operations, commanded the First Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was the Chief of Staff of the Tenth Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York.

During his tour with the 5th Special Forces Group General Shelton then lst. Lt. Shelton lobbied to become part of Project Delta. He was successful in being assigned to the Project was declined his request to be a Recon team leader because he was to damn tall. Fortunately for him and the Recon Section the Lt in charge rotated out of Delta and Hugh was given command.

Shelton’s trademark leadership style was evident even as a young Lt. His approach to leading this group of seasoned NCOs, squirrelly young NCOs and clueless Lts. was to listen carefully to what each person had to say, formulate mission plans together and support his troops on the ground. The also lead from the front. When the Project became short of Recon teams during its first 1967 venture into the Ashau Valley, Hugh formed a team including an NCO big enough to carry him should he be hit and pulled his rotation.

For many of the Lts. who served under him during his time at Project Delta he set a lifelong standard for the behavior of leaders. He has never forgotten his time in Delta and has been generous in his support of its former members.

Selected for promotion for brigadier general in 1988, General Shelton served two years in the Operations Directorate of the Joint Staff. In 1989, he began a two-year assignment as the Assistant Division Commander for Operations of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, during which he participated in the liberation of Kuwait during Operation DESERT SHIELD/STORM. After the Gulf War, General Shelton was promoted to major general and assumed command of the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, NC. In 1993, he was promoted to lieutenant general and assumed command of the XVIII Airborne Corps. In 1994, during his tenure as Corps commander, General Shelton led the United States Joint Task Force that restored democracy in Haiti. In March 1996, he was promoted to general and became Commander in Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command.

General Shelton became the 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1, 1997, and served two 2-year terms. Throughout his tenure as Chairman, U.S. forces were in heavy demand and participated in numerous joint operations around the globe.
During his tenure, he worked tirelessly on behalf of service members, their families, and military retirees by championing a number of landmark quality of life initiatives, including: the largest pay raise in 18 years, pay table and bonus reform, and critical improvements in both retirement and healthcare programs. He made great strides in improving the readiness and retention of the current force while simultaneously crafting Joint Vision 2020 - the roadmap for the Future Joint Force. General Shelton also established Joint Forces Command to consolidate joint experimentation efforts and guide the transformation of the U.S. armed forces for the 21st Century.

General Shelton holds a Master's Degree from Auburn University, and has attended Harvard University, the Air Command and Staff College, and the National War College. He has been decorated for distinguished service by numerous military and civilian organizations in the United States and overseas.