General Henry H. Shelton was born in Tarboro, N.C. 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.
General Shelton became the 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1, 1997, and served two two-year terms, retiring on September 30, 2001. Throughout his tenure as chairman, U.S. forces were in heavy demand and participated in numerous joint operations around the globe.
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.
He has been decorated by 16 foreign governments and, in 2001, General Shelton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
For his exemplary service to his country, the 107th Congress bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal on General Shelton on September 19, 2002.
He is currently Chairman of the Board of Red Hat, Inc. and serves as a director of L-3 Communications. In addition he serves as a director for the following private companies: CoVant, AT Solutions, Robbins-Gioia, The O’Gara Group, Professional Products Enterprises and HighMark.
General Shelton is also the Executive Director of the General Hugh Shelton Leadership Center at North Carolina State University and serves as Director of the Hugh and Carolyn Shelton Military Neurotrauma Foundation, Washington, DC.
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.