Army Sgt. Ronnie L. Shelley, Sr., 34, of Valdosta, Georgia.
Sgt. Shelley died in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV while on patrol. He was assigned to the Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 48th Infantry Brigade, Albany, Georgia.
Ronnie ‘Rod’ Shelley: ‘Needed to do his part’
By Anna Varela | Wednesday, August 3, 2005, 05:41 AM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sgt. Ronnie “Rod” Shelley wanted to escort the body of his best friend back to their hometown of Valdosta.
Shelley was riding in a three-vehicle convoy in Iraq on July 24 when a bomb in the road tore apart the Humvee carrying his buddy, Sgt. John Frank Thomas, killing him and three others from his platoon.
Shelley was devastated, but determined to keep doing his job in Iraq, and to serve as a pallbearer at his friend’s funeral.
But Saturday night, Shelley and three other Georgia Army National Guard soldiers met the same fate, killed by another large bomb detonated by insurgents on a road outside Baghdad. Tuesday, as the Thomas family continued to wait for John’s body to return for burial, Shelley’s wife, Heidi, began her wait, too.
Her husband could have gotten a medical exemption from serving in Iraq because he had severe problems with his teeth, she said. A doctor offered to sign a letter that would let him stay home.
“Rod said ‘No. Pull them all so I can go,’ ” Heidi Shelley said. “He needed to go. He needed to do his part.”
Shelley, 34, served in the Marines for eight years and saw combat in the first Gulf War, his wife said. He signed up for the Guard about three years ago, mostly for the retirement pay. He and his wife dreamed of someday selling their house, buying a motor home and sending postcards from the road to their three children, who are now 4, 8 and 13 years old.
Shelley was a graduate of Lowndes County High School. In civilian life, he was the overnight maintenance supervisor at a bakery. He enjoyed bass fishing, camping, four-wheeling, and spending time with his family.
“He thought we were supposed to have a barbecue every Sunday,” said Heidi Shelley, 25. “He was the grill master.”
Army Sgt. Ronnie L. Shelley, Sr. was killed in action 07/30/05.