SALT LAKE CITY — A World War II veteran, Purple Heart recipient and Utah native will be laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery on his upcoming 100th birthday Monday.
Lloyd Shipley was born Dec. 17, 1918, to a farming family in the small town of Paradise, Cache County.
On that date this year, his children and grandchildren will hold a graveside service at Arlington as his and his wife's caskets are moved from Florida to the military cemetery in Virginia.
In 1942, Shipley was drafted into the U.S. Army, sent to Alabama for basic training, and then off to Europe in 1944.
Shipley was injured badly just under a month of arriving in France. His son, David Shipley of Salt Lake, said he was practically cut in half from machine gun bullet spray, but luckily nothing pierced his vital organs. He beat the odds and survived.
He returned to Paradise in 1945 with his wife, Lottice "Lottie" Shipley (formerly Bledsoe), whom he met in Alabama before going to war.
Over time though, his injuries compromised his ability to work on the farm. The Shipleys moved to Logan, where Lloyd worked for the fire department. But still, the cold winters exacerbated his injuries and were very hard on him.
So for his health, the Shipleys moved with their five daughters to Tampa, Florida, in 1953, where David and another son were born.
He worked for the U.S. Postal Service until he retired at 65.
Although he lived the majority of his later years across the country, David Shipley says his dad was a genuine Utah man.
"He always loved Utah," the son said. "He loved the mountains, he loved farming, he loved hunting."
Lloyd Shipley was also a very involved member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints both in Utah and Florida. He was passionate about family history and held several different callings.
When Lloyd Shipley returned to Utah in the early 1990s to visit family, his son said he was astounded by the development of the west side of the interstate.
He passed away in 1999.
David Shipley began planning to have his parents interred in Arlington in 2015 when he and his wife were visiting their gravesite in Florida, coincidentally on Lloyd's birthday.
"I did the math in my head at the time, and I said, 'You know what, he's going to be coming up on his 100th birthday, and I've always wanted to get him into Arlington,'" he said. So he put the plans in motion.
David Shipley noted that all of the couple's living grandchildren will be present at the special graveside service.
"It's a big deal for the grandkids," he said. "It will be nice to have something in the nation's capital where they can go and say, 'Hey, you know what? We actually have someone in our family there at Arlington.'"
David Shipley recalls his father talking about how during the war, the soldiers were excited to get out and fight, but that enthusiasm was quickly lost, which Lloyd Shipley confirms in his personal autobiography.
"It took about half a day in France to cool our ardor for the war. It was just like maneuvers, but the enemy was shooting back with real bullets and some of us were being killed. After about a week of war, I figured my chances of getting out alive were four out of five, as that seemed to be the survival rate of those wounded," he recorded.
He also wrote:
"One of the worst times of my life was the war in France. It's easy to look back at the bad times and remember the good times. It was a trying experience, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It gives you the best opportunity to see men at their worst and to see the best come out in them under the worst circumstances."
David Shipley said that although his father was a decorated veteran — including a Purple Heart — he was always very humble.
"He never tooted his own horn, and he didn't want it to come across as a spectacular story," David Shipley said.
David Shipley believes some of his father's admirable qualities and outlook on life were a result of his upbringing in Utah.
"I don't ever remember him having an unkind thing to say about anyone," David said. "There wasn't a bitter bone in his body, toward the Germans, or the Japanese, or the Italians."