General Henry H. Shelton was born in Tarboro, North Carolina. He received a bachelor’s degree in textiles from North Carolina State University and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry through the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
General Shelton spent the next 38 years in a variety of command and staff positions in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Vietnam. He served two combat tours in Vietnam, the first with the 5th Special Forces Group and the second with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Also, he commanded the 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry in the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington; served as the 9th Infantry Division’s Chief of Staff for operations; commanded the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and, was the Chief of Staff of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York.
Selected for promotion to 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, where he participated in the liberation of Kuwait during Operation DESERT SHIELD/STORM. After the Gulf War, he was promoted to major general and assumed command of the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 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 2 two-year terms, retiring on September 30, 2001. In this capacity he was the principle military advisor to Presidents Clinton and Bush as well as the Secretaries of Defense and the National Security Council..
Among his many military awards, General Shelton has received four Defense Distinguished Service Medals, two Army Distinguished Service Medals, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, and the Purple Heart.
For his exemplary service to his country, the 107th Congress bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal on General Shelton on September 19, 2002. He has also been decorated by 16 foreign governments and, in 2001, General Shelton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
General Shelton is the 2008 recipient of the United States Army Infantry’s Doughboy Award and the 2009 NFL and College Football Hall of Fame Distinguished American award. He was also presented the Army Special Operations Professionals Man of the Year award in 2009
Highlights of his civilian awards include the Charlotte (NC) World Affairs Council World Citizen Award for 2002, North Carolina’s highest Award for Public Service, the Eisenhower Award from the Business Executives for National Security, the American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award, Intrepid Freedom Award, and recognition as National Father of the Year, among others.
After retiring from the Armed Forces, General Shelton served as President, International Operations, M.I.C. Industries from 2001-2005. He has also served as a director on a number of public company boards to include Anheuser Busch Companies (2001-2008), Anteon International (2001-2007) and Professional Products of America (2005-2009). He is currently Chairman of the Board of Red Hat, Inc. and serves as a director of L-3 Communications. In addition he serves on boards of the following private companies: CoVant, AT Solutions, The O’Gara Group, Point Blank Enterprises and HighMark. He previously served as a director of Robbins-Gioia, BioSignia and Professional Products Services (P2S).
General Shelton is the Executive Director of the General Hugh Shelton Leadership Center at North Carolina State University and serves as a Director of the Hugh and Carolyn Shelton Military Neurotrauma Foundation, Washington, DC.
General Shelton has authored two books; ” Secrets of Success, Values-Based Leaders”, was published in 2009 and his autobiography, “Without Hesitation”, was released in October 2010.