Newton Falls veteran became a Korean war hero | News, Sports, Jobs


NEWTON FALLS — To say that Keith Paul Shiflett was a “old school” the soldier may underestimate the case.

According to his son Mike, the 91-year-old from Newton Falls grew up in the mountainous region of West Virginia, and when he was drafted into the US Army at the start of the Korean War, the skills Shiflett’s survival skills, which were honed in the streams and woods of his homeland, fit in perfectly with the harsh terrain he encountered as a member of the Special Troops Battalion deployed above Korea’s 38th Parallel .

“He went to Korea as a private soldier”, Mike Shiflett likes to describe his father’s experience in the U.S. military overseas, “but nine months later he left the front line of the war as a first platoon sergeant.”

At the age of 19, Shiflett describes himself as everything “piss and vinegar.”

“He was just a good old boy who learned to live off the land,” Mike Shiflett talked about his dad’s skills in hunting, fishing and keeping even with the clothes he wore on his back. Even today, Shiflett does what he must to care for an invalid wife.

Shiflett’s battlefield record includes 24 recorded enemy casualties. Army records show that Shiflett’s skills qualified him for special forces.

“You have to keep in mind that these are recorded murders,” said Mike Shiflett. “My father speaks as if there were many others. And these were close confrontations. You know, hand-to-hand combat.

In fact, he scored so many points for this bravery on the battlefield that army officials sent him home early, which he didn’t want to do.

“I didn’t want to leave my men on the battlefield” said Keith Shiflett. “But coming home was great. I went home on the Queen Mary and we arrived at the Port of Los Angeles.

Shiflett recalls that a few years ago he returned to the West Coast and walked on the same ship that brought him back from the war front.

Shiflett didn’t mind recounting his battlefield exploits to his three sons. “Blood and guts have often been left out”, said Mike Shiflett.

His father did not want his children to join the military, although one son – Bryan – ended up becoming a six-year-old Marine.

“He followed the rules – a real military guy – which means he wouldn’t put up with any nonsense from us kids. He was so strict, but that was a good thing. Mike said.

One of his Korean War stories places him as the only member of his team to pursue an enemy sniper who opened up with an automatic weapon on Shiflett’s squadron from a tree perch.

“There were bullets whizzing past me, but I made sure he didn’t have a chance to reload,” he said.

There is still not a loose bone in Keith Shiflett’s body, although those bones have worn down with age, bouts of cancer and now slowed down due to a leg amputation during the surgery June 3 at Trumbull Regional Medical Center.

But in his later years, Shiflett still found the strength to care for his wife, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease.



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