Rich Shelton retired from the United States Air Force in 1995 after 25 ½ years of service as an Air Force Band Squadron Commander and Conductor. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and, at the time, was the senior ranking officer in the Air Force Band Program.
Colonel Shelton earned a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Arizona in 1971, and a Master of Music Education degree from Auburn University in 1978. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College and Air War College. During his Air Force career, he commanded six Air Force Bands in the Philippines, Alabama, New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia and Ohio. He directed ceremonial support for the 1983 World Economic Summit in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the US Bicentennial Celebration at Yorktown; led US Embassy hosted tours throughout Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines and Portugal; has entertained and performed for Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush, French President Francois Mitterand, Pope John Paul II, Imelda Marcos, former first lady of the Philippines, a host of US Ambassadors, Secretaries of Defense, US Air Force and foreign military Chiefs of Staff; and, just prior to his retirement, he had the honor of entertaining the U.S. Secretary of State and Presidential delegations during the State Department-hosted Bosnian Proximity Peace Talks in Dayton, Ohio.
Colonel Shelton is one of the most highly decorated band commanders in the history of the Air Force Band Program. His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit Medal, five Meritorious Service Medals, the Air Force Commendation Medal, two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, and the National Defense Service Medal with bronze star. Under his progressive leadership and vision, his bands have earned four Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, The Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, the 1991 Presidential Award for Quality and Productivity Improvement, the Air Force Materiel Command’s Small Unit Quality Award for 1994, and the internationally acclaimed John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Colonel George S. Howard Citation of Musical Excellence for Military Concert Bands and Conductors. He was also selected by the US Jaycees as one of the “Outstanding Young Men in America” for 1983.
Following his retirement after nine years as executive director of the West Valley Symphony, Colonel Shelton moved on to his third career in real estate with RE/MAX Desert Showcase and owns a promotional products business called Mark-it Solutions, LLC. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Arrowhead Community Bank (now First Fidelity Bank) in Glendale and served on that board for ten years. He is also a former member of the board of directors for Leadership West. Rich and his wife of 43 years, Stacia, reside in Glendale.