Brothers find pride, rewards in answering call to serve
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As students at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools host Veterans Day events on Monday, Nov. 11, Steamboat Springs resident Chip Shevlin will be seated among the men and women who served in the U.S. military.
“The effort that these kids go to and the people and parents who come out to support us is great,” Chip said. “They are genuinely appreciative of the veterans who have served.”
Chip has attended the events for years but wanted to share the experience with his two older brothers who live on opposite coasts. Chip, who is 73, grew up with Hugh, 78, and Tim, 76, in Scarsdale, New York, as part of a family that understands service.
Monday, all three brothers will be seated next to one another in Steamboat.
“Celebrating with both my brothers will make it even more special. I was the youngest of the three Shevlin boys,” Chip said. “We followed similar paths after graduating from high school, and we all ended up in the service.”
Chip is proud of the time he spent in Vietnam between 1969 and 1970 as a first lieutenant platoon leader with the 25th Infantry Division, but he admits that being a Vietnam veteran has not always been easy.
“I bumped into my 10th-grade girlfriend (who was working as a flight attendant) in the San Francisco Airport after I had just gotten out and was heading back to the East Coast, and in uniform,” Chip said. “I saw her, and we started talking, but as soon as I told her that I just got back from Vietnam, she backed off. You would have thought that I had told her that I had been exposed to Ebola. That was kind of the way it was back then, and after that, I generally didn’t share my experiences with too many people.”
His older brother Hugh, who still lives in the New York area, joined the Navy in 1959 after graduating from Notre Dame University. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1963 and was commissioned into the Navy through the Reserve Officers Training Corps program on that same day. He served from 1963 to 1965 out of Norfolk, Virginia.
Monday, Nov. 11
- 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Breakfast will be served to veterans at the VFW Hall, 924 Lincoln Ave.
- 9:45 a.m. Veterans Day program at Strawberry Park Elementary School, 39620 Amethyst St.
- 11:30 a.m. Lunch at Casey’s Pond, 2855 Owl Hoot Lane
- 1:45 p.m. Veterans Day Program at Soda Creek Elementary School, 220 Park Ave.
- 3:30 p.m. A reception with the American Legion National Vice Commander Rob Liebenow and Department of Colorado Commander Dean Noechel, Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.
- 5 p.m. Dedication of World War II display at Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St.
Veterans and family of WWII veterans are encouraged to attend Monday evening’s presentation at the Tread of Pioneers Museum, and all veterans are encouraged to attend the school programs.
“I was not in the glamour Navy,” Hugh joked. “I was not in aircraft or submarines or anything that you might dream about being a naval hero. I was in the working Navy.”
It was Hugh’s dad, also a veteran, who encouraged him to join the Navy.
“They had all three ROTC programs, and I wanted to be an officer,” Hugh said. “My father said, ‘You know if you go to the Army, you will probably end up being based at an army base, and if you end up in the Air Force, you will end up on a base. But if you go into the Navy, they go all over the world, and you will get to see places that you wouldn’t otherwise get to see.’”
Hugh’s served on a refueling tanker, the U.S.S. Chikaskia, and spent most of his time in the Mediterranean. As a navigation officer, he made sure the tanker was in the right place at the right time to provide diesel and aircraft fuel to the fleets that were protecting the U.S. After leaving the Navy, Hugh stayed on the East Coast, residing in or near New York City for most of his life. He retired from Morgan Stanley as a stockbroker.
Tim graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1965 and after being inspired by his older brother, went through Navy Officer Candidate School, successfully completed flight school and received his wings as a Navy pilot.
After college, he was offered a job with General Motors, but he elected to pursued his naval career first. He was trained as a carrier pilot but, ultimately, became a flight instructor in California. He eventually moved to San Diego and has lived in Anaheim since getting out of the Navy in 1971.
A few years later, it was Chip’s turn to carry on what has become a family tradition.
“I went to a small college in upstate New York, Alfred University, and graduated in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree at the height of the Vietnam War,” Chip said. “Figuring that I’d rather be an officer than an enlisted man, I went through Army ROTC and received my commission.”
In 1969, he was sent to the Cu Chi region in Southern Vietnam.
“I was in charge of all of the medics,” Chip said. “Generally, they would rotate you from a line company, which is what I was in as an infantry battalion, back to the rear echelon after six months. I guess they figured that the odds are stacked up against you, so let’s get you out of the way of danger. But I liked it there, and that’s where I spent the year.”
He said the base was often targeted by the Viet Cong. He said it was common for the enemy to get inside the secure perimeter and launch attacks. Those attacks were a mystery until after the war, when an elaborate maze of underground tunnels, used to store weapons and ammunition, was discovered underneath the base.
Chip retired in Steamboat in 1994 after a career in sales and real estate. He worked as a golf assistant for 15 years and is still a ski instructor at Steamboat Resort, a position he has held for the past 25 years.
This week, the three brothers are enjoying a reunion for the first time in nearly 15 years. Chips said it’s a great chance to celebrate the family’s commitment to service and what it has meant to the siblings’ lives.
“I firmly believe they should have a draft where everybody has to serve,” Chip said. “It doesn’t have to be in the military. It could be some type of government position, but everybody, like in Israel, has to serve in some function for two years. Yeah. And I think that would straighten out a whole bunch of the problems here.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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