Veteran Salute

Veteran Salute: Early lessons in life influence Navy vet's service

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) - A Navy veteran, who was part of the Occupational Forces in Japan, says he signed up to serve because he knew it was his duty to go.

Shelby Shockley is 91-years-young and says thanks to his grandfather, who raised him right, he learned the importance of helping others. 

It was the Great Depression and Shelby Shockley remembers well what it was like to help out at his grandfather's country store.

"People bought groceries there and they couldn't pay the bill, and he'd carry it for them and he'd go on for six months or so and they didn't have the money," Navy Veteran Shelby Shockley said. "I saw him take the bills out of the book and tell them just forget about it, you don't owe me nothing." 

Shockley says folks often gathered at the store to talk about the war, one he volunteered to serve in.

"They said if you pick a service you stand a chance of getting into some kind of occupation, you know learn an occupation," Shockley said. 

He became a shipfitter in the Navy, they helped keep vessels in the Pacific ready for action.

Although they spent the bulk of their time in the bay, off the coast of Japan, one time when ashore Shockley got a little too far from the ship!

“They come and got me and took me down to the railway station. Two Military Police officers put me on a train. There wasn't nothing but Japanese on it. I couldn't talk to none of them, or nothing. I thought boy if I get lost they'll never find me,” Shockley said.

He was eventually welcomed back on board and Shockley remembers well what it was like as they sailed by Pearl Harbor.

“There was ships all over that harbor, that was a sight, some of them just sticking up,” Shockley said.

In 1980 he went back to Pearl Harbor, something Shockley says he'll never forget.

“They've got a memorial built over there, where that Oklahoma went down, we went and saw it,” Shockley said. “They still have bubbles in the water here or there, where oil leaked out of those ships that was there.”

Shockley spent two years in the Navy.

“I got through it, the good Lord brought me back home,” Shockley said.

Once home he enjoyed 63 years of marriage with his wife Theda, before she passed.

“I started going to Linwood Senior Center, that's where I met Carol down there,” Shockley said. 

That's when Shockley found love again.     

“She told me, at the time she had a heart valve, she might not live very long, and I said, well I am getting old, I might not live that long,” Shockley laughed.

He says the two sure enjoy living life together and helping others any chance they get, something Shockley learned from his Grandfather early on, you should always do.

His mechanical skills, he used in the Navy, shaped his entire career after he returned home.

He started work for a Chevy dealership in 1952, where he went on to become the longtime service manager.

After he retired he had his own shop at his home.

Shockley says they have a big garden each year, they stay active in their church and he and Carol still love going to the senior center.


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