SHIRLEY CAPTURED ON D-DAY
One of the stories in Ralph "Zig" Boroughs' new
book, "The Devil's Tale," is that of Joe Shirley. Boroughs
said he talked to the Clemson resident when he was in Ninety Six
a few years ago for a family reunion.
Shirley was a paratrooper who was shot in the shoulder and captured
by the Germans during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944,
Eventually, he ended up in a German hospital in Cherbourg,
The hospital was beginning to run out of supplies and, during the
invasion, shells started to land near the hospital.
An American glider pilot who could speak German helped to gain the
confidence of the captors and told the Germans if they let him
go he would tell the American forces where the hospital was so
they could stop shelling it.
The Germans agree and Shirley asked the pilot to take and mail a
letter to Shirley's mother. His letter arrived at the home
of Shirley's mother in Augusta, Ga., several weeks later.
In his letter, Shirley tells his mother that his group
* Ninety Six is a town in Greenwood County,
was commanded to join another American unit not
far from where they landed.
"I was preparing to move out, while covering the withdrawal of the
others, when I got a bullet through the left shoulder, which
spun me around and sat me down in the foxhole," wrote Shirley.
The hospital in which Shirley was staying was liberated on
June 27, 1944, according to Boroughs' book.
Boroughs also relates another story about Shirley. According
to "The Devil's Tale," prior to his jump, Shirley stood in the
doorway of the plane and could tell from the geographic features
exactly where he was.
Following the jump, w0 paratroopers assembled in the area with
Shirley. The commanding officer was about to send out
scouts to find oit where they were by road signs.
Boroughs says in his book that Shirley the commanding officer he
knew exactly where they were.
The colonel disregarded Shirley's advice and sent out the scouts
Joseph Alvin Shirley
CLEMSON - Services for Lt. Col.
Joseph Alvin Shirley, 83, will be held at 3 p.m. today in the Chapel of
Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home with burial in Cemetery Hill. Visitation
will be from 2-3 p.m. today at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers,
memorials may be made to the Callie J. Shirley Fund, Clemson University
Lt. Col. Shirley died Thursday, May
10 at Clemson Downs. He was a native of Greenwood, a son of the late
John Allen and Callie Jones Shirley. He was a graduate of Greenwood High
School and was a 1940 Graduate of Clemson College in Textile Chemistry.
He retired from the U.S. Army where he was a paratrooper in the 82nd
Airborne Division of the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment. He
participated in the Normandy Invasion, was wounded and taken as Prisoner
of War on D-Day until VE Day when the 9th Army Division captured the
hospital he was in.
He was awarded a Doctor of
Humanities Degree from Clemson University in 1994. The Joseph A. Shirley
Center for Philanthropy was named in his honor in 1997. He was an
honorary director of the Clemson University Foundation. He was
predeceased by his wife, Dorothy O. Shirley.
Surviving are his sister, Sara Feige
of Hialeah, Fla., and a number of nieces and nephews.
(The State, Columbia, SC, 12
May 2001, Page B4)
Clemson libraries receive money
from Greenwood native's estate
CLEMSON --- The libraries of Clemson University
have received $438,364 to date from the estate of the Greenwood
Joseph A. Shirley, a Clemson graduate and major donor to the
university, died in the spring of 2001. His entire estate
was designated for the Clemson University libraries.
"We are honored by Mr. Shirley's bequest. His generosity
symbolizes his commitment to the Clemson libraries and the
Clemson family," Clemson President Jim Barker said.
Shirley graduated from Clemson in 19040 with a degree in textile
chemistry. He served 30 years in the Army , and during
WWII parachuted into Normandy and the Netherlands as an airborne
infantry commander. He later served as a nuclear weapons
Shirley was awarded the Joint Services Commendation Medal,
Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf
Cluster, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, and 508th Parachute
Infantry Association award.
"Dr, Shirley has become one of the largest benefactors in Clemson
history," said Joe Boykin, dean of Clemson library
system. "And he has done so
in a very selfless manner.
In 1981, Shirley began making
donations to the Clemson University libraries in honor of his
mother, Callie Jones Shirley. Shirley his given a total of
$1,291,206 to the libraries.
Shirley's niece, Chester resident Shirley Schuler, said her family loves
"We are a family of readers," she said. "Hopefully many, many
Clemson University students will find great benefit from this
bequest and the library."
Jeff McNeil, who served as vice president for development at
Clemson in 1981 and is now president of The McNeil Group, a
national fund-raising company in Tuscaloosa, Ala. remembers
Shirley as "a common man who didn't own fancy things."
"He did show his wealth, however, when it came to philanthropy, he
said. "He was the most unique and humble man I've ever
Today, the Callie Jones Shirley Library Endowment has grown to $2
million and is critical to the libraries' ability to
provide much needed information to users, Boykin said.
In honor of his life of military service and his support of
academics, Shirley received an Honorary doctor of Humanities
degree in 1995.