Jimmy Lee Shelton – Corporal, United States Army

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 1270-05
December 8, 2005

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Corporal Jimmy L. Shelton, 21, of Lehigh Acres, Florida, died in Bayji, Iraq on December 3, 2005, when his forward operating base was attacked by enemy forces using mortars.  Shelton was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

December 6, 2005:

Family and friends of a Southwest Florida soldier are mourning over his death.

21 year-old Jimmy Shelton was killed in Iraq Saturday when his division was attacked while he was sleeping.

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“One part of my heart didn't ever want to accept something like this would happen.”His father, Burgess Shelton remembers the day his son called him up and told him he was joining the U.S. Army.

“We were on vacation.”

Jimmy was only two months into his first tour when the doorbell rang early Saturday morning.

“I got dressed push the curtain back, and saw them standing there. I couldn't open the door,” says Burgess.  “I fell to my knees, my wife fell to her knees, we just cried.”

Jimmy Shelton died weeks, maybe days before he was to become a Corporal.

Burgess doesn't question why though.

“Whether I agree with war or President Bush,” says Burgess, “I agree with what my son stood for.”

Jimmy's mother finds comfort in remembering their last conversation.

“I said I love you so much honey, there was a delay, that second goes by he says, I love you too mom,” says Billi-Jo Shelton.

The Shelton's are clinging to vivid memories, trying to keep their son's spirit alive.

“In home economics, he made a pair of pajamas…and wore them under his gown at graduation.”

Both parents are keeping a piece of Shelton next to their heart, both wear his dog tags.

“I told him I'd take it off when he was home, done for good, I'll never take it off,” says Burgess.

The Shelton's say the Army was not only what Jimmy died for, but what he lived for.

Private Jimmy Shelton will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Fun-filled life will be soldier's legacy

Courtesy of the News-Press
December 07, 2005

With a twinkle in his eye and a prank up his sleeve, Jimmy Lee Shelton endeared himself to nearly all he met.

“My classes always teased me about hating cats,” said April Holt, 27, who taught Shelton at Gunnery Road Christian Academy in 1999. “One day, at Christmas time, he caught a stray cat, put it in a box and wrapped it up, leaving holes for the cat to breathe. He got a total laugh out of it.”

Holt said she remembers the last time she saw Shelton when he came to church for Sunday services in September before he shipped out with the U.S. Army to go to Iraq.

Shelton, 21, died Saturday after his camp was struck by five rounds of mortar fire. Eighteen other soldiers were injured, but only Shelton was killed.

Those who knew and loved Shelton were stunned by his death, but took comfort in the fact he was a devout Christian and they believed him safe with God.

Still, his mother, Billi Jo Shelton, has struggled accepting the fact she will never hold her youngest son again. Shelton, one of two children, is survived by an older brother, Burgess Shelton Jr., 23, and his parents, Billi Jo and Burgess Shelton Sr.

“I want to tell him everything that's happening,” said 38-year-old Billi Jo Shelton, sobbing. “I want to share it with him. Who am I going to talk to now?”

“But, we still have him with us,” said Burgess Shelton, 40. “We have him in our hearts.”

Just days before he was killed, Billi Jo Shelton had talked to her son on the telephone. She told him about the Christmas package she had mailed, containing a DVD player, a stocking and the family joke, two matchbox cars.

Since learning of his death, the Shelton family has asked the military to give the gift package to another soldier who might not receive anything for Christmas.

They also learned that their son had been busy shopping online for presents and expect to receive gifts from him during the next few weeks.

Family members said people from the community have been supportive and have given them comfort.

They were especially pleased to learn that officials from the Florida Highway Patrol are trying to award Shelton the title of honorary trooper posthumously.

Growing up, Shelton wanted to work in law enforcement and joined the Army to make himself more marketable. Family members said he wanted to be a state trooper.

Florida Highway Patrol Corporal John T. Schultz III said he was touched by Shelton's story because he, too, had considered joining the military to try to parlay that experience into a career with law enforcement but received a job offer before he enlisted.

“It touched me a bit,” Schultz said. “Maybe we can do something for the family. It just touched me.”

Schultz said troopers are also planning to be at Shelton's funeral, which will take place locally sometime during the next week or so.

Family members said Shelton's body was expected to arrive in Dover, Delaware, late Tuesday evening, where it will remain for about two days before being flown to Florida.

Family members plan a local ceremony and then Shelton's body will be flown to Virginia for burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

No further details on funeral arrangements were available Tuesday.

“His death has affected so many people,” said Shelton's maternal grandmother, Bonnie Mahlbacher, 64. “I'd rather have him here, though.”

Mahlbacher said one thing that made her grandson remarkable was his respect and affection for senior citizens.

“He looked older people in the eye and loved them,” she said. “He had a kind word and a hug for the older ladies at church. That's what amazed me.”

Shelton seldom missed church services when he was home.

“Jimmy was at my wedding in 2000,” Holt said. “I also taught him how to type on the computer. He grew up here at the church. It was a total shock to me at first. I was thinking, no, not Jimmy, but God wanted him home for a reason, and now he's with the Lord.”

Former teacher Jane Bancroft, 50, had Shelton in class during his senior year and still has a poster he made during her health class.

“I kept the poster he made on what to do if someone faints,” she said. “He signed it Dr. Jimmy Shelton. He always had a smile and was a little mischievous. He was the only guy in the class, and there was always good-natured kidding on who could get the highest grade.”

At Gunnery Road Christian Academy, students and teachers alike prayed daily for Shelton's safety in Iraq until they were told of his death. While they were saddened by the news, it also brought home lessons about mortality and faith, officials said.

Math and science teacher John Vance, 24, grew up with Shelton at the school.

“He was a good kid,” Vance said. “No matter what you asked, he turned it into a joke. But, as he grew up, he turned into a good young man. He was still funny, but he understood what he was doing. He was a man and he loved his country.”

Body of soldier killed in Iraq heads home

Family hopes to hold service early next week
9 December 2005

Five days after he died in enemy mortar fire, U.S. Army Corporal. Jimmy Lee Shelton is back in the United States.

Shelton of Lehigh Acres was the only soldier killed Saturday during an attack in Bayji, Iraq.

His body arrived in Dover, Delaware, on Thursday afternoon and is expected to be in Southwest Florida by this weekend.

Family members hope to hold services here on Monday or Tuesday with final burial scheduled for 10 a.m., December 16, 2005,min Arlington National Cemetery.

U.S. Army Colonel Andrew Yee accompanied Shelton's body on the first leg of the journey from Iraq to Kuwait on Sunday.

Yee said he didn't know Shelton, but was honored to have the opportunity to accompany the fallen soldier home.

“I thought of the family,” Yee said. “Every day we see the numbers on a computer screen of wounded, killed, captured and so on. This isn't about the numbing numbers on a screen. To each individual it is personal.”

Before Shelton's casket was placed on the plane, Yee said, soldiers from his unit and others held a quiet service.

Yee said those present silently held their salute as Shelton's coffin was carried onto the plane.

“A U.S. Air Force chaplain held a brief service and I noted the tears in everyone's eyes,” he said. “Jimmy's comrades were closest to him and tried to remain stoic but failed.”

In Kuwait, Yee said another group of military personnel formed behind the aircraft and saluted as Shelton was taken off the airplane.

“As we saluted the coffin and he was taken off the plane, I noticed far down the runway a helicopter getting refueled,” Yee said. “The air crew got out of the helicopter, formed up in a line, and saluted too. It exemplified the ‘brotherhood' recognizing our own.”

Shelton was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Truck Hits Hearse Carrying Fallen Soldier

December 13, 2005

After dealing with the horrible reality of losing their loved one, the family of 21 year-old Jimmy Shelton faced another blow.  The hearse carrying Shelton's body was hit head on, while on its way to the memorial service.

Shelton's family was in the car right behind the hearse when the crash happened.

“It was a freak accident,” says Father Burgess Shelton.

Shelton says people on the other side of street slowed down because of the funeral procession, and a driver didn't notice the brake lights. He says a truck swerved into the opposite lane, hitting the hearse.

People reacted quickly getting Shelton's casket moved to another vehicle and taken to the church.

Despite what happened, the service started just a half an hour late, and the family tried to take the situation lightly.

“Right now it's such a shock, but we'll look back one day, and say can you believe that happened,” says Billi-Jo Shelton.

His parents even think their son had something to do with it.

“Never like being late for your own funeral.  Jimmy's…jokes, and the way he jokes, he pulled it off,” says Burgess Shelton.

Corporal Jimmy Shelton died more than a week ago in Iraq. He was sleeping when insurgents attacked his division.  He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Three people including two in the hearse went to the hospital with serious injuries Tuesday. FHP troopers ticketed the driver of the truck for careless driving.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/15/1984
  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/03/2005

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