MAJOR GENERAL ROBERT L. SHIRKEY Major General Robert L. Shirkey, age 89, of KCMO. passed away at Research Hospice February 14, 2014. Visitation will be from 4:00–8:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 19, 2014 (Rosary at 7:30 p.m.). Funeral mass at 12:00 noon on Thursday, February 20, 2014. Both visitation and funeral mass will be held at Redemptorist Church, 3333 Broadway, KCMO. Entombment to follow at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery Mausoleum at 8300 W. 83rd St., Lenexa, KS . In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts to Redemptorist Church. Robert was born on April 26, 1924 in Vermillion, Kansas and grew up in Holton, Kansas. He is the son of Clarence Hampton Shirkey and Minnie Schroeder Shirkey. After significant Army service in the Pacific war, Robert earned his B.A. degree and then his law degree from what was then Kansas City University School of Law. On admission to the bar in 1950 he joined the law firm of Rogers, Field & Gentry. After his departure from Rogers, Field & Gentry he started his own practice winning substantial victories for his clients and precipitating major changes in products liability law, tobacco litigation and other areas of personal injury law. He was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Court of Military Appeals and U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri. At the age of 15, Robert enlisted in the 137th Infantry, Kansas National Guard. He graduated from Infantry OCS and was commissioned a second lieutenant at the age of 18, holding the distinction of being the youngest man to graduate from OCS during World War II. After volunteering to serve in the Alamo Scouts (an early iteration of the Special Forces) he became one of only 21 officers to lead an Alamo Scout team on combat missions during World War II. Shirkey led his team on special missions on the island of Luzon, Philippines, through the summer of 1945. On a mission of particular importance to Gen. Krueger and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, then Lt. Shirkey and his team moved 65 miles behind the Japanese lines to confirm that Gen. Yamashita was in direct command of Japanese forces on the island. Shirkey led six special- operations combat missions, including back-to-back deep-penetration missions around Bontoc and Atok, Luzon, that resulted in one of the longest periods spent behind Japanese lines of any Alamo Scout team. After his first release from active duty, he completed his civilian education in Kansas City, but his civilian life was interrupted when he was recalled to active duty to command an Infantry rifle company on the front lines in Korea. Following his tour in Korea, Shirkey remained active in the Army Reserve. Among other assignments, he served as an instructor for the Infantry School, the Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Ft. McNair. He was Deputy CG of the U.S. Army Military Personnel Center at St. Louis and later Commanding General, 89th U.S. Army Reserve Command (89th ARCOM). Retiring in 1982, he was the last general officer on active duty who had fought against the Japanese. Among other awards, Major General Shirkey was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal with V-Device and Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, numerous campaign medals, unit citations and in recognition of his Alamo Scouts service, he was authorized the Special Forces Tab. Major General Shirkey took every opportunity to, in his words "tell what those men did" and to preserve their incredible acts of courage and sacrifice. He has also shared his experience with the Command Group, Combined Arms Center and with Special Operations students at the Command and General Staff College. In 2010 he donated military papers to the Combined Arms Research Library at Fort Leavenworth, KS. Among other organizations Major General Shirkey held membership in the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Special Forces Assn., Alamo Scouts, Reserve Officers Assn., Assn. of the Army of the United States, National Historical Society, American Royal Assn., Liberty Memorial Assn. and was a perpetual member of the Military Order of the World Wars, Greater Kansas City Chapter. He is survived by his wife Carol, and sons Niles Shirkey and Allen Crawford. Grandchildren, Amanda Shirkey, Christopher Crawford, Rene Murry and 6 great grandchildren. Siblings, Clarence Shirkey, Harold Shirkey, Alan Shirkey, Mona Snowden and Dorothy Dinwiddie. Preceding him in death were his son, Stacy Shirkey, his parents Clarence and Minnie Shirkey, brother Raymond Shirkey, and sisters Irene Sweeton and Wilma Taylor. A special "Thank You" to Vitas Hospice for all their services and support. An old soldier never dies he just fades away.
Published in Kansas City Star on Feb. 18, 2014.