At 94 years old, Gene Shipp can still fit in his military uniform, and he plans to wear it Saturday night when he is honored as the 2014 city of Bloomington Black History Month Living Legend.
“I’m just grateful and honored to receive it,” Shipp said of the honor. “I appreciate it so much.”
Shipp served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1971, fighting in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He helped invade Italy and North Korea; he spent time stationed in Germany; and he as worked as a mechanic in a field artillery unit.
He’s spent much of his life in Bloomington, though, moving into Park Ridge East in 1968 after his son enrolled at Indiana University. Shortly after the move, he was sent to Vietnam and was awarded a Bronze Star by President Richard Nixon for his actions there. He retired from the Army in 1971 with the rank of master sergeant and has lived here ever since.
Shipp now resides at Bell Trace Senior Living Center, but is still in good health.
“I still get around pretty good ... I can still drive a car,” Shipp said. “I’ve been blessed.”
His two children, Melvin Shipp and Patricia Shipp May, and two granddaughters will be attending the ceremony with him.
“I’m quite thrilled to receive it,” Shipp said.
The Outstanding Black Male Leader of Tomorrow Awards from the city Commission on the Status of Black Males will also be presented to two individuals Saturday. The award is given in two categories — high school age and younger than 30.
Gabriel Jones, a senior at The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship, was chosen for his reputation of leading by example and urging others to get involved in the community.
Jones is a member of the Business Professionals of America and Science Olympiad teams, president of the Spanish Club, student columnist for The Herald-Times and advocacy and public relations chairman for the Monroe County Youth Council.
He studies Kiswahili and Japanese and has served as co-president of the student government.
Landon Jones, a graduate student at Indiana University, was selected for his commitment to working with a wide variety of people and being a positive role model.
He is working toward his master’s degree in African studies, participates in the IU Emissaries for Graduate Student Diversity Program, is a member of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commission and Monroe County branch of the NAACP, and volunteers with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington.