- Last Updated on 07:38 AM 04/10/13
- BY Doug Ford
At 98-years of age, World War II veteran Raymond Shelton is still active in the community, he still drives, and he still plays the piano at two churches and several nursing homes in South Boston.
But, Shelton was a man of few words Monday night, when the former medic in the famed 92nd Infantry Division, known collectively as the “Buffalo Soldiers Division,” was honored by South Boston Town Council for a lifetime of service to his nation.
“Individually and collectively, may God bless each and every one of y’all,” said Shelton while receiving the accolades of his community, state and country.
U. S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Congressman Robert Hurt, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, the Virginia General Assembly and the governing bodies of South Boston and Halifax County paid Shelton homage through letters of recognition and resolutions.
The 92nd Infantry Division, formed with African-American soldiers from all states in 1917, was the last segregated U. S. Army Division and the only African-American Division to fight overseas in World War II in Europe.
Shelton was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1942 and served as a medic in the Buffalo Soldiers Division, which suffered 3,200 casualties between August 1944 and May 1945, according to a resolution read Monday by Town Manager Ted Daniel.
“It’s an honor for us to be able to recognize you as a member of our ‘Greatest Generation,’ and specifically as a member of a group of great African-American patriots who not only answered the call of their nation during a time of war but who extended themselves through personal sacrifice to show our nation and the world once again that there are no finer, braver or more dedicated warriors who have ever entered a war zone than the Buffalo Soldiers,” Daniel said in honoring Shelton.
“As time has past, memories tend to fade, and the nation become pre-occupied with the present,” Daniel noted.
“There are moments and opportunities like this that allow us to focus our attention on the people who saw us through the nightmare of World War II, and through their service and sacrifice gave our nation the opportunity to become the greatest nation on earth.”
South Boston Mayor Ed Owens noted Shelton’s continued service to his community and nation.
The late Mayor Carroll Thackston wanted to “make sure we brought this day to fruition,” Owens told Shelton.
“He was really proud of you and what you accomplished.”