DoD Salutes Shelton's 38 Years of Military Service
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
FORT MYER, Va., Oct. 2, 2001 "The Ballad of the Green Berets" played as Army Gen. Henry Shelton reviewed the troops for the last time.
The song paid tribute to the general whose 38-year career began as a Special Forces soldier in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and ended as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Shelton's military service ended during a ceremony Oct. 1. He is succeeded as chairman by Air Force Gen. Richard Myers. Shelton received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and his wife, Carolyn, received the Defense Distinguished Public Service Award.
Shelton thanked service members for their sacrifices, "always at the point of the spear, flying their aircraft, sailing their ships, patrolling their sectors far from home. He said the U.S. military is ready for the challenges that lie ahead. "They have never let our nation down and they never will. They stand ready for the challenges our nation faces in the future."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Shelton made readiness his first concern and that is why the U.S. military is prepared to answer President Bush's call to "be ready" to help search out and destroy the terrorist network that attacked New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon Sept. 11.
Rumsfeld said Shelton's service as senior military adviser to the president, defense secretary and the National Security Council has been distinguished. "Yet even while serving at the very highest levels, he never lost touch with the brave men and women who stand sentry on the frontiers of freedom every day," Rumsfeld said.
The secretary thanked Shelton for helping craft a new military strategy for the United States focused on the emerging threats of asymmetrical warfare. He said Shelton faced the tough questions on force shaping and distribution and the best way to organize the U.S. military to face 21st century threats.
"Much of our effort has been to transform our forces to meet the challenges of the future," Rumsfeld said. "As of Sept. 11, the future was thrust upon us. Throughout it all, General Shelton's focus has remained to win our nation's wars."
Shelton says he leaves with 38 years of memories. "For those here today in uniform, for 38 years I have served with you and thousands of your predecessors," he said.
"In the Central Highlands of Vietnam; in the sands of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq; on the beaches of Port-au-Prince ... they were just like you, America's finest. I'm so very proud of you for carrying on their legacy of service. I have no doubt that you will stand tall and vigilant against those who seek to destroy the enduring freedoms that we enjoy as Americans."