NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. - Irving Thomas Shanley, 89, of Northborough, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and D-Day Veteran, died on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, surrounded by his loving family. He was the loving husband of Florence Louise (Crespi) Shanley, with whom he celebrated 64 years of marriage in September.
He will be greatly missed by a son, Thomas Victor Shanley and his wife Marianne of Uxbridge; four daughters, Joan Frances Shanley of Grafton, Mary Christine Dragon and her husband Jeffrey of Northborough, Patricia Louise Dreifus and her husband Peter of Shrewsbury and Pamela Marie Shanley of Shrewsbury; four grandchildren, Samantha Marion Dreifus, Mikaela Mary Shanley, Matthew Shanley Dragon, and Macoy Thomas Shanley; a sister, Jeanette M. Andrews of Florida; many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by two brothers and three sisters, Raymond James Shanley, John Joseph Shanley, Anne Louise Lovelace, Pauline Frances Fallon and Olive Marie Donato.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, he was the son of the late Henry Charles Shanley and the late Lena Frances (Murphy) Shanley.
Colonel Shanley graduated from Hope High School in Providence in 1940 and in 1942, he volunteered for the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, being formed at Camp Blanding, Florida. He served with this distinguished regiment for four years, participating in the parachute invasions of Normany, France on June 6, 1944 and Nijmegen, Holland on September 7, 1944. He also served with this regiment during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, during the winter of 1944-45.
During these combat operations in Europe, the Regiment was part of the elite 82nd Airborne Division, commanded by General Matthew Ridgeway and General James “Slim Jim” Gavin. The Regiment was awarded the US Distinguished Unit Citation, the French Fourragere, the Dutch Militaire Willems Orde, Degree of Knight 4th Class and the Belgian Fourragere. When the war ended in Europe in May 1945, the Regiment was selected to serve as Honor Guard for General Dwight D. Eisenhower at Frankfurt, Germany.
In 1951, he received a direct commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, while serving as a Master Sergeant with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During ten years of airborne service he completed 66 parachute jumps, including the two combat jumps. Colonel Shanley also served as a Platoon Leader with the 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry division in Korea in 1952, and as a staff officer with Headquarters, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam 1967-68 during the Tet Offensive. As a Captain at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in 1958 he accepted a Regular Army Commission and was transferred from the Infantry to the Adjutant General Corps. He retired from the Army in 1969 after more than 26-½ years active service. Colonel Shanley served with the Infantry for 14 years and with the Adjutant General Corps for 12-½ years.
Colonel Shanley’s awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Commendation Medal, the French Legion of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre avec Etoile, the Combat Infantry Badge with Star, the Master Parachutist Badge, and service medals with nine bronze stars for service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Colonel Shanley was a life member of the American Legion Vincent F. Picard Post 234 in Northborough, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Korean War Veterans, Battle of the Bulge Association, Military Officers Association of America, The Order of the Purple Heart and the 82nd Airborne Division Association LTG James M. Gavin Chapter. He was also a member of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment Association, the Irish Ancestral Research Association, the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Fox Point Boys Club Alumni Association in Providence, where he was inducted into the Club’s Hall of Fame in 1986, and was Legionnaire of the Year for 2004 at the Vincent F. Picard Post 234.
Before moving to Northborough in 1994 and becoming a parishioner of Saint Rose of Lima Parish, Colonel Shanley resided in Framingham, where he was a parishioner of Saint Anselm Parish in Sudbury, where he served as an usher and greeter for 24 years. He also served on several church committees during this time.
Calling hours for Colonel Shanley will be held on Thursday, Dec. 6, from 4 to 7 p.m. in Mercadante Funeral Home & Chapel, 370 Plantation Street, Worcester. His Funeral will be held from the funeral home on Friday, Dec. 7, departing in procession at 9:30 a.m. for a funeral mass to be celebrated at 10 a.m. in Saint Rose of Lima Parish, 244 West Main Street, Northborough. Interment with Military Funeral Honors will follow in Saint John’s Cemetery, Worcester.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Saint Rose of Lima Building Fund, 244 West Main Street, Northborough, MA or Mass Veterans Inc., 69 Grove Street, Worcester, MA 01605.