JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- The U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (Airborne) recognized 60 years of honorable federal service during a building dedication at Felker Army Airfield, here, Nov. 1.
John L. Shipley, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) Special Programs (Aviation) director, has been connected to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) since its inception.
"I could talk about some of these guys for years. The thing I never understand is they work in SIMO (Systems Integration Management Office), develop a product and deploy to combat," began Shipley. "Every 90 days, they go, then come back home and then they reenlist. Think about it, knowing you're going to sign up for another 90 days of getting shot at every night, sometimes three and four times. So, you never wonder why you're willing to spend your life trying to do something for them."
Shipley enlisted in the Army immediately after high school in 1954, serving in the 11th and 82nd Airborne Divisions until 1956.
After his enlistment, Shipley earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with Aero option from North Carolina State University in 1960 and ultimately earned a Master's of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1966.
He was appointed as a member of the Senior Executive Service in 1984, and in 1991, Shipley assumed duties as the director of the Army Special Operations Directorate, concentrating his support to streamlining Army Special Operations Aviation (ARSOA) acquisition.
In his capacity as the AMCOM Special Programs (Aviation) director, Shipley is responsible for the development, acquisition, modernization, fielding and sustainment of the U.S. Army's Special Operations classified and unclassified aviation fleet.
In a letter dated May 2, 2018, Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark T. Esper, approved the naming of building 7228, located at the home of 160th SOAR (A) on the Gen. Bryan "Doug" Brown Compound at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky to "Shipley Hall".
Gen. (Ret.) Bryan "Doug" Brown, seventh commanding general, U.S. Special Operations Command, third commander of the 160th SOAR (A) and the compound's namesake, presided over the ceremony.
"It is my honor to represent all those in the audience that would be more than happy to be at the podium today speaking about John Shipley," said Brown. "I've worked with John for almost 40 years and I've seen him mold a generation of program managers and operators to an exceptional level of excellence."
The honor became official with the unveiling of a bronze plaque permanently on display at the main entrance of the Aviation Materiel Management Center (AMMC) facility.
The plaque reads, '"Shipley Hall" dedicated in honor of Mr. John L. Shipley, AMCOM Director, Special Programs (Aviation). For his dedication and commitment to the modernization, readiness, and capability of special operations aviation, United States Army Special Operations Aviation Command (Airborne) "Volare Optimos", "Night Stalkers Don't Quit."'
"When the Rangers or Marine Raiders or when the Night Stalkers go after a target of their own, it is John Shipley who got them there, with the hardware to accomplish the mission. It happens night after night in the nastiest places in the world," said Brown.
The AMMC building was completed in December 2017. Within its 48,000 square feet are real-time manufacturing labs, electrical labs and a live communications lab. This building also houses two major commercial depot facilities servicing electro-optical systems and terrain following radars which not only service the ARSOAC enterprise but also provide support to sister services.
Other distinguished guests included the Honorable Patrick M. Shanahan, Deputy Secretary of Defense; the 35th Army Chief of Staff, Gen. (Ret.) Peter Schoomaker; Gen. (Ret.) Dick Cody, 31st Vice Chief of Staff of the Army and the fifth commander of the 160th SOAR (A); and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Kevin Mangum, 10th commander of the 160th SOAR (A).
"Mr. John Shipley's dedication to acquisition, innovation, mentorship and unwavering support of the operator who uses the equipment has been extraordinary," said Brig. Gen. Allan Pepin, commanding general, U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command. "For decades, his expertise, influence and acquisition strategies have immeasurably contributed to the success of the 160th SOAR (A) and for Army Special Operations Aviation (ARSOA). The building dedication in his name is a well-deserved recognition for his positive and lasting impacts to special operations aviation. John Shipley's legacy will forever be a part of the unit's history."