Thursday, July 1, 2010

Major (ret) Ralph Shelton, SF passes

SHELTON, RALPH W. "PAPPY", MAJOR U.S. ARMY RETIRED - 80, of Sweetwater, died Tuesday, June 29, 2010, at Sweetwater Hospital, Sweetwater, TN. A native of Corinth, Mississippi, he was a son of the late William M., Jr and Elma Hilburn Shelton and was also preceded in death by 2 sisters, Quiba Moore and Gladys Price, and 1 brother, Bill Shelton, Jr. Major Shelton, a member of the Army Special Forces, is perhaps best remembered as the man who trained the Bolivian Troops who captured the revolutionary Che Guevara. Shelton joined the U.S. Army in 1948 and served as a Sergeant in the Korean War, earning the Silver Star for valor. Shelton entered the U.S. Army officer's training school, finishing first in his class in 1958. In 1961, after Ranger and Airborne training, he joined the Special Forces. His Mobile Training Team served much of its time behind enemy lines to train natives of other countries to fight insurgencies around the world. His team fought Laotian insurgents in Southeast Asia before he was assigned in 1967 to train Bolivian troops to capture Guevara. After leaving the Army, he earned a bachelor's and a master's degree from the University of Memphis. He taught 12 years of JROTC in the Memphis City Schools and served five years as director of Operations Wilderness, a summer experience modeled after the Outward Bound Program. He also served 14 years as training director with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Memphis. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Sweetwater, where he had served on the Administrative Board. He was a member of the Sweetwater Kiwanis Club, He was a member of Memphis Lodge #722 F&AM, he was a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, and was a member of the Shrine of Memphis. He served as a Sweetwater City Commissioner, was also involved in Sweetwater Tourism, and was awarded Monroe County's Tourism Person of the Year. He is survived by his wife; Susan Vestal Shelton, of Sweetwater and formerly of Athens; four daughters: Janeene Larkin of Memphis, Robin Poole and her husband Randy of Gallantin, TN, Piper Browning, and Brandi Maddox both of Nashville; one son, Ralph W. Shelton, Jr. and his wife Phyllis of Dayton, TN; and one stepson, Robert Forrest Torian of Memphis; and eight grandchildren. A funeral service will be conducted, 3:00 P.M., Friday, July 2, 2010, in the chapel of Smith Funeral Home with the Rev. Julian Walton and Rev. Carl Oakes officiating. Interment will follow in Cedar Grove Cemetery with full Military Honors at the graveside. The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 1:00-2:30 P.M., Friday prior to the service. If you are unable to attend this service or visitation, you may sign the guest register at Smith Funeral & Cremation Service of Athens is serving the family of Ralph W. "Pappy" helton.


  1. I was a student at Kingsbury High School where Major Shelton taught. I had no idea that every day I was in the presence of a real military hero.
    May you rest in peace, Major. Thank you for your service.

  2. Adios Pappy, See ya on the Other Side


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