United States Army Lieutenant Colonel Derrick Nelson Shaw passed away on December 7, 2021 after a difficult battle with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood.
Shaw was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in Doraville, Georgia, where he had a beautiful combination of country and city life during his childhood. He spent the summers with his paternal grandparents in Bowdon-Junction, a rural railroad town in West Georgia, and grew very fond of the sound of trains rumbling over the tracks. During the school years, however, he grew up in the bustle of Atlanta. He loved to play baseball and was involved in the band, two passions that remained in his heart until the very end of his life. Shaw’s parents were the epitome of Yin and Yang, coming from two very different cultures and merging together to give Shaw a beautiful, well-rounded life. They were very supportive of everything Shaw pursued, never missing practices, games, or performances. They were reliable and provided a bedrock that Shaw felt indebted to for his whole life. Shaw and his future wife, Elizabeth, eventually met during an interview with Elizabeth’s father to be featured in his newspaper and were immediately smitten with each other. They went to breakfast, lunch, and dinner together, and four days later, Elizabeth moved to Washington, D.C. with Shaw. They were married two months later.
Shaw attended the University of Georgia on an ROTC Scholarship. Four years into his career as a band director, he saw an advertisement for an Army Band Office audition in the newspaper and decided to take the role for Pershing’s Own. It was a perfect fit for him. Always feeling a call to serve, Shaw enlisted in the US Army in 1999. He was passionate about public diplomacy and believed that soft power was an underutilized tactic in warfare. Shaw earned a master’s degree in statecraft and foreign policy affairs from the Institute of World Politics, where he was the valedictorian of his class. Elizabeth describes her husband as a patriot. He always wanted to leave something better than he found it. He worked tirelessly in every position he occupied to create something self-sustaining that progressed into a worthy mission.
Throughout his career, Shaw had many accomplishments, including two Presidential Inaugurations, one Presidential State Funeral, many foreign heads of state arrival ceremonies, the opening of the African American Museum of History and Culture, Super Bowl 39, the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Rose Bowl in 2019. The best jobs for Shaw were the funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, as well as each and every deployment and redeployment at Fort Hood. Shaw developed multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood, which has been identified as one of the seven correlated to burn pit exposure. He sadly passed away seven months after his diagnosis. Elizabeth states that her husband remained the strongest person she had ever known throughout his treatments.
Currently, Elizabeth is heavily involved in her church and has started a non-profit at her office, called Project 24601 where they treat the disenfranchised and at-risk members of their community at no cost. Elizabeth states that there is meaning, beauty, and purpose in suffering. She has seen the good in so many of God’s creations. Elizabeth is excited to continue to seek His will in all things so she can continue to sing the praises of His Holy Name. She states that the donation from Tunnel to Towers has changed her life and she is now able to give her children, Kass, 17, Anna, 16, and Liam, 12, the future they would have had with their father here. Elizabeth states that this peace has given them the untold opportunity and allows them to focus on healing, growing, and the remembrance of their loved one. Shaw and his wife had such a beautiful love and Elizabeth would like people to remember there are people like her husband when they start to think of the bad things in this world.
US Army Lieutenant Colonel Derrick Nelson Shaw is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and his children, Kass, Anna, and Liam.