, Corbin, KY


July 16, 2014

Staff Sgt. Dirk Shelton: 1985-2014

Air Force member from Corbin dies

CORBIN — Staff Sergeant Dirk Shelton, a Corbin boy who dreamed big, aimed high, and served his nation with honor while working in some of the most dangerous assignments in the world, died Monday in Washington, D.C.

Shelton — who was on a training mission in Fairfax, Virginia, over the weekend —  was declared legally dead after suffering a traumatic brain injury Sunday.

He was 29.

Corbin City Commissioner Joe Shelton was Sgt. Shelton’s uncle. He said Tuesday the hero his nephew was to this nation continues with his passing.

“Dirk was an organ donor, and is presently going through the organ donor process. Because of that, he’s saving eight lives. He lived life to the fullest, and wanted others to have the gift of life,” Joe Shelton said.

Sgt. Shelton served with the United States Air Force for nine years. He was deployed six times — four to Afghanistan, and one each in Somalia and Kuwait.

He completed three combat tours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In addition, Sgt. Shelton had been on multiple overseas missions.

On his last deployment in Afghanistan, he was awarded the Bronze Star. His other awards included the Joint Service Achievement Medal (2nd OLC), and the Air Force Achievement Medal.

Joe Shelton said news of his nephew’s passing devastated all those who knew, loved, admired and respected him.

“It’s a difficult time for our family. My nephew was a wonderful soul. His commander said Dirk was part of a highly elite service group of personnel, and that he was literally all over the world,” he noted.

Dirk Thomas Shelton was born in Corbin on June 10, 1985.

He was a Radio Frequency Transmission Journeyman assigned to the Joint Communications Unit in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

SSgt. Shelton enlisted in the Air Force on November 21, 2005, graduating from Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas on December 2 of that year.

He proceeded to technical training at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi as a Radio Frequency Transmission Apprentice. After he completed his training, Sgt. Shelton was assigned to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where he worked at the 89th Communications Squadron as a Centralized Network Control Station Radio Operator, responsible for transmitting emergency action messages, aircraft advisories, and air-to-ground high frequency telephone patches from September 2006 to June 2009.

He assessed and was selected for assignment to the Joint Communications Unit, where he spent six months as a Special Operations Radio Course Student (SOROC). Sgt. Shelton was a graduate of SOROC, the Airman Leadership School, and the Army Basic Airborne Course.

At the time of his passing, he was with the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a sub-unified command of the U. S. Special Operations Command, or USSOCOM.

According to the Command’s website, they’re “charged to study special operations requirements and techniques, ensure interoperability and equipment standardization, plan and conduct special operations exercises and training, and develop joint special operations tactics.”

Made up of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians who have been rigorously screened, the website stated the men and women of JSOC “possess unique and specialized skills, and are routinely among the best in their field.”

Dirk Shelton was one of them.

One of his high school teachers always knew Dirk — a 2004 graduate of Corbin High — was made of the right stuff.

“I taught Dirk in class. He had a bright, very analytical mind. He could always answer your high-level questions, and he’d come back with questions for me that would lead to some great classroom conversations,” said John Crawford, now Corbin High School’s principal.

In an interview Tuesday, Crawford noted Dirk always dreamed of having a military career.

“He was the type of person who believed in God, his country and his family, and he personified that in the military. My understanding is that Dirk’s commander and his unit are with the Shelton family now in Washington, D. C. His commander continues to praise Dirk’s dedication and service, saying Dirk’s a very heroic and brave guy who had been in some difficult, dangerous situations. His commander added that Dirk was ‘The elite of the elite,’” he pointed out.

Crawford mentioned a conversation he had with a classmate of Dirk Shelton’s recently. He said the classmate and Dirk were planning on attending their 10-year Corbin High class reunion next month.

“He was just a fine representative of Corbin, and all our town should really be proud of him. It’s a real sad day for us. Dirk will truly be missed,” he said.

Said Joe Shelton of his nephew, “He’s had a tremendous outpouring of support from the Corbin community. We’ve literally been inundated with text messages, emails, phone calls and personal condolences from friends, and that doesn’t go unnoticed. We really understand our community’s a great place to live, and that’s how you end up with children like Dirk.”

Along with his uncle, SSgt. Dirk Shelton is survived by his wife, Maria, who is also in the Air Force and is stationed at Fort Bragg. Friends said the two met each other while in the military.

His father Tom, mother Jenny, and sister Morgan, also survive. All three live in Corbin.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.

Text Only
0726 thunderbolt for web.jpg

The soft whistle of a flute floated through the room as audience members listened in awe to tales of the Thunderbolt people. “This land that you’re now sitting on was that of Thunderbolt people,” said Thunderbolt descendant David Owens. Owens and Indian flute player Robert Mullinax stopped at the Laurel County Library Friday night to entertain with spoken legends, folk lore and tales of the bygone Thunderbolts. Audiences were captivated by stories passed down from the Thunderbolt of how things came to be. Tales about fire, pipes and Kentucky — just to name a few — were shared by Ownes over the course of an hour with Mullinax playing behind him.

  • Tales of the Thunderbolt

    The soft whistle of a flute floated through the room as audience members listened in awe to tales of the Thunderbolt people.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Local News
Local Sports
0708 Kelsey White Miss Ky.jpg

Kelsey White

  • Local woman vyes for Miss Kentucky crown

    A Williamsburg woman is among the 32 contestants representing local scholarship pageants from across the state who will vye for the title of Miss Kentucky 2014. 

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • July’s jumpin’ in Downtown Corbin

    After Thursday’s fun, festivities and fireworks during the Independence Day Block Party, how do you top the month best known as the sizzling center of summer?

    July 7, 2014

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide