Man home after fiery tour in Iraq
July 11, 2008
Her son returned from Iraq in June after leading 40 infantry soldiers for 15 months. U.S. Army Capt. Trevor Shelden’s troops worked with Iraqis to get information about terrorists in Baghdad’s most violent neighborhoods.
"He’s called G.I. Trevor with all the kids," said Jeremy Ranch resident Carey Shelden, Trevor’s mother.
Insurgents in Baghdad tried to scare men in his platoon with severed human heads as they patrolled dangerous suburbs, Shelden said in an interview at his home in Jeremy Ranch.
"They would drop heads for us of the people we were working with. They found out who the American sympathizers were and cut their heads off and left them for us," said Shelden, who is 29 years old.
But paying Iraqis to turn on their countrymen allowed American troops to quell a chaotic counterinsurgency that pit Sunnis against Shiites, he said.
"It changed the entire outcome of the surge because everybody ratted on each other after enough money was thrown out," Shelden said. "We basically outspent any country, like Saudi Arabia backing the Sunnis or Iran backing the Shia."
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Shelden belongs to one of five U.S. brigades that surged into Iraq in 2007.
"We lived in some of the harshest conditions and got to know the local leaders," he said about his combat outpost in Baghdad where summer temperatures reach 135 degrees. "They consider infantry to be tip of the spear because generally we’re leading the way."
A 1997 graduate of Park City High School, Shelden was in Baghdad as the rest of his class celebrated their 10-year reunion.
"Park City is damn fortunate. People in America, in general, are really fortunate that we’re here," he said.
Both of her sons served in Iraq, Carey Shelden said, adding that her 32-year-old son Hunter is a captain in the Air Force.
"These stories are too scary for me I’m so happy he’s home," the mother said as Trevor was interviewed.
She described the day she learned that Trevor was injured in an explosion when his face was peppered with shrapnel.
"I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do, didn’t know who to call," Carey said. "[Trevor] didn’t call for a week."
Seventeen soldiers in his battalion died in Iraq, Shelden said.
His father gave him a medal before he left that depicts Saint Christopher, who is supposed to protect travelers.
"I wore it every day," Shelden said.
He graduated from the University of Utah in 2001 and entered the Army as an officer when he was 24.
"We were world cops," Shelden said about his duties in Iraq. "We do everything from major raids to precision raids."
Weapons and materials used to make bombs were often seized from inside homes, he said.
"There was a huge sectarian rift when we first came in, so they threw us in the middle of southern Baghdad and said, clean up the mess," Shelden explained. "We are so advanced and they are so primitive, that we had to take a few steps back."
He is slated this year to try out for the Special Forces to become a Green Beret.
"A goal of mine is to get as far as I can in the military, but I haven’t made the decision of whether or not I will be career," Shelden said, adding that he already qualified as an Army Ranger.
He hopes Afghanistan will be his next wartime assignment.
"When I was leaving (Iraq) things were getting a lot better, but there were still kidnappings," said Shelden who will return in a few weeks to his base in Washington state.