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Shelton Welcomed at Pentagon

By Paul Stone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 1997 – Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton received his official welcome as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during an Oct. 15 Pentagon ceremony.

Defense Secretary William Cohen praised Shelton as a "leader with courage, flexibility and versatility." Touching on Shelton's varied career, Cohen said the new chairman has the needed skills of both a great warrior and diplomat.

"From the jungles of Vietnam to the sands of Desert Storm, from the Joint Staff corridors to the Special Operations Command, he has served in, shaped and led missions from A to Z in countries from Albania to Zaire," Cohen said. Shelton has also served as the task force commander for the Haiti mission and commanded the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Both past and present military leaders turned out for the ceremony, including former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Colin Powell, former Army Chiefs of Staff Gens. Carl Vuono and Gordon Sullivan, and Gen. Alexander Haig, secretary of state under President Reagan. Businessman and former presidential candidate Ross Perot also attended.

Shelton joked about the cold, rainy weather, which moved the ceremony inside the Pentagon's crowded Hall of Heroes, saying, "It's a good day to be a Ranger." He thanked President Clinton and Secretary Cohen for their support in selecting him as chairman, but saved his most complimentary remarks for service members.

"To our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen, our Marines, and our Coast Guardsmen, I extend my heartfelt thanks for your service and your many sacrifices," Shelton said. "Whether I meet you in the field, on the flight line or aboard ship, my heart is always stirred by your aura of pride and your unbeatable but tempered spirit. Our men and women in uniform have earned the admiration of our citizens, the homage of our allies and the respect of our potential adversaries."

Shelton succeeded Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, who retired Sept. 30. Since becoming chairman, Shelton has traveled to Germany for meetings with defense officials and to Bosnia, where he met with NATO stabilization force commanders to discuss the continuing Bosnia mission.

He also presided over the Oct. 16 dedication of the new U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Miami.

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