Gary Shields' name is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable names in Macon County. Like most Vietnam veterans, he loves the United States, he loves North Carolina, and he loves Franklin and the people who live here. He is passionate in his desire to help other people and to serve his community and his nation.
Upon graduating from high school, Shields enlisted in the military in October 1966. He did his basic training at Fort Bragg, N.C. He then went to Fort Gordon, Georgia, for his radio communication school. He also cross trained in mortars and infantry. In Vietnam, he served with the United States Army Airborne, attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. When his unit was in a fire-fight, it was his responsibility as Radio Communications Officer to call in support for them, whether artillery, jets, or mortars.