James A. Shelton was born in Denton, Montana, in 1916 and enlisted in the Navy on 15 January 1941. Appointed an Aviation Cadet on 20 March 1941, he trained at Pensacola, Miami, and San Diego. Ensign Shelton was assigned to Scouting Squadron 6 on 17 April 1942 and was reported missing on 4 June 1942 during the Battle of Midway. For his heroism and devotion to duty, Ensign Shelton was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.
(DE-407: dp. 1,350; l. 306'; b. 37'; dr. 13'; s. 24 k; cpl. 186; a. 2 5", 3 21" tt., 8 dcp., 1 dcp (hh.), 2 dct.; cl. John C. Butler)
The first Shelton (DE-407) was laid down on 1 November 1943 by Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Tex.; launched on 18 December 1943; sponsored by Mrs. John Shelton; and commissioned on 4 April 1944, Lt. Lewis B. Salomon, USNR, in command.
After fitting out and loading stores, Shelton steamed out of port on 21 April, in company with Edmonds (DE-406) for Bermuda on her shakedown cruise. Upon completion, she underwent post-shakedown availability at the Boston Navy Yard from 25 May to 15 June. The escort departed Boston on 16 June en route to San Diego via New York, Hampton Roads, and Balboa, C.Z.
Shelton arrived at San Diego on 6 July and sailed for Pearl Harbor three days later. The DE stood out from Pearl Harbor on 26 July as part of a convoy proceeding to Eniwetok. The convoy arrived there on 6 August and was dissolved. Shelton was then assigned as a unit in the screen for Task Force (TF) 57 composed of five carriers and routed to Seeadler Harbor, Admiralty Island. After arriving there on 13 August, Shelton operated in the area until the following month when she was assigned to the Morotai Attack Force (TF 77).
Shelton was still off Morotai on 3 October in the screen for Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70) and Midway (CVE-63) when they were attacked by the Japanese submarine RO-41. A torpedo wake was sighted at 1,500 yards heading for the escort. In evading it, Shelton was hit on the starboard screw by a second torpedo which caused severe damage and flooding. Richard M. Rowell (DE-403) came alongside and removed the crew. The escort was taken under tow but capsized and sank. Shelton was struck from the Navy list on 27 November 1944.
Shelton received one battle star for World War IIservice.