Sgt. E-5 James H. Shields of Manchester has retired from 29 years of military service that included two hitches in the U.S. Air Force, duty in two wars, and active and inactive duty in the Army Reserves and Tennessee National Guard.
The Franklin County native was recently honored with a party and presented gifts – including a framed certificate of his discharge from the U.S. Army effective on his birthday (May 21) – by fellow workers at The University of Tennessee Space Institute.
Shields has worked in UTSI’s physical plant since December 1987 – first as janitor, then laborer, and now service assistant. He was on leave from the Space Institute in 1990-91 while serving 10 months with the U.S. Army in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm. He also served in the Vietnam War.
“I’m proud I did it, and I would do it again,” Shields says. “I also am grateful to the Space Institute for its cooperation while I was serving my country.”
He also is grateful for the encouragement of several friends, including Lyman Partin of Decherd, the late Buster Gunn of Winchester, a former security guard at AEDC, and the late Gilbert Payne of Winchester.
“Buster (a Guardsman) pushed me hard,” Shields remembered. “And Lyman and Gilbert pushed me to stay in the Guard and to work for the State of Tennessee. You need somebody behind you; you can’t do it all by yourself.”
Born in Cowan on May 21, 1946, Shields grew up in Winchester and graduated from Franklin County High School with the Class of 1965.
Shields enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on Sept. 16, 1965, served till Jan. 31, 1969, then re-enlisted and served until July 1975. During the Vietnam War, he pulled duty in Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan, and reached the rank of E-4. In the Air Force, he was assigned to ground maintenance of F-4 and F-105 aircraft.
While in the Army Reserves in the early 1980’s, Shields reported to summer camp in Germany, Belgium, and Holland.
He is a sergeant-at-arms with American Legion Post 78 in Manchester and is a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars No. 1893 in Winchester.