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Lt. Col. Shelly protected Panama Canal, sites in Europe, Middle East

MADISON – In 1989, David Shelly was interested in pursuing his master’s degree (MBA). A visit with his sister in Washington D.C. led him to ROTC at University of North Alabama.

Shelly enlisted with Alabama National Guard and completed basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., accelerating his ROTC advancement to begin master’s program as a third-year cadet.

At UNA, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business and later received a master’s degree in international public policy from Johns Hopkins University.

At 27, Shelly was quite older than most ROTC students and exceled in military/physical training. He attended Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga. and U.S. Army Master Fitness Trainer’s Course, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind.

He was commissioned as Infantry Officer with future transition to Military Intelligence. “I retired at rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 22 years in the Army in 2013 at Redstone Arsenal,” Shelly said.

He was assigned to Mechanized Infantry Unit at Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany as 2nd Platoon Leader. With a drawdown, he relocated to Fort Lewis, Wash. There he married Julie.

Transitioning to Military Intelligence Officer in 1997, he was assigned to Fort Kobbe, Panama with 5/87th Infantry Battalion charged with protecting the Panama Canal.

“5/87th Infantry was a wonderful experience with great leadership, working environment and opportunities to hone skills as a new Military Intelligence officer,” Shelly said. “Participating in first multinational training event hosted by Brazil was tremendous; we worked with country staffs during SOUTHAM Exercise in Rio de Janeiro. My parents were Baptist missionaries to Brazil.”

Also in Panama, he earned Air Assault Badge, led group to support National Guard NEW HORIZONS training in Honduras and accepted command of Headquarters Company supporting Infantry Battalion.

The Shellys’ son Matthew was born in Panama.

Shelly served at Fort Carson, Colo. until deployment to Eagle Base, Tuzla, Bosnia to support STABILIZATION FORCE 7. His combat tour in Iraq was with 1st Brigade Combat Team “Bastogne,” deploying to Kirkuk, Iraq. He assumed operations at Forward Operations Base WARRIOR.

In Stuttgart, Germany, he became Deputy Commander, Joint Special Operations Task Force, Trans Sahara, unit of SOCAFRICA.

He is a Florence native; wife Julie is from Tuscumbia. While Shelly was deployed to Iraq in 2005, his father had triple-bypass heart surgery and suffered from Alzheimer’s/dementia. To care for his father, Shelly requested a compassionate reassignment to Redstone Arsenal and accepted a position with U.S. Army Material Command, Office of Chief of Staff. Madison City Schools also attracted the Shellys.

Julie Shelly substitute teaches at Mill Creek Elementary School. Matthew is a UNA freshman. Daughter McKenna attends Liberty Middle School.

David Shelly is a life member of 101st Airborne Division Association; American Legion, Post 229 member; President, North Alabama Sigma Chi Alumni; and President, North Alabama British Motoring Society.

Highly involved with James Clemens High School Band for Matthew, Julie served as fundraising chair, and David co-chaired band logistics to transport instruments and equipment.


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