Supporting the Constitutional and Human Rights of America's Bereaved Military Families
Colonel Philip M. Shue, USAF
Turning Tragedy Into Activism: Remembering Colonel Philip Shue
by Cilla McCain
Parked in full view of the residents in Kendall County, Texas, are the remnants of a 1995 Tracer once belonging to Air Force Colonel Philip Shue. Nine years ago yesterday, on April 16, 2003, at approximately 5:30-6:00 a.m., Colonel Shue kissed his wife Tracy goodbye and headed to work at Lackland Air Force Base. It was the last time they would ever see each other. At 8:14 a.m., witnesses observed his car speeding recklessly down Interstate 10 before it veered off the road and crashed into a patch of small trees. When first responders arrived they were flabbergasted to find his body
sadistically and intentionally mutilated. Both of his nipples were cut away with surgical precision, a 6-inch long, 1-inch wide incision was made down the middle of his chest; his wrists and ankles were wrapped in duct tape, and a finger and earlobe were cut off. These body parts were never found. There were also numerous injuries that suggested a struggle had taken place.
Authorities in charge of the investigation eventually labeled the death a suicide. However, Tracy Shue refused to accept those findings and fought in every venue available to have Colonel Shue's cause of death changed to homicide and his killers arrested. She was eventually successful when during a legal proceeding with insurance company USAA, Texas Judge Bill Palmer ruled in June 2008, that Colonel Shue was indeed the victim of homicide. Nevertheless, Kendall County authorities and the Air Force have refused to comply with the ruling and Tracy's fight for justice continues.
"It feels like yesterday." Tracy Shue says as she recalls the afternoon of April 16th when she received notification that her husband was dead. "When the Sheriff and minister arrived at our house that day, it was approximately 3:30 p.m. I've never known for certain why it took them so long to notify me."
A couple of hours later, Al Auxier, from the Department of Public Safety arrived to talk with Tracy.
As we sat in the living room discussing the car crash, she remembers, Auxier blurted out: 'Oh, by the way, is there any reason your husband would have duct tape around his wrists and ankles?'
Tracy, still in a state of shock, and still unaware of the mutilation, instantly remembered several life-threatening letters Colonel Shue had received and was saving in a file.
Oh my God! she exclaimed, they've killed him!
Retrieving the threatening letters from Colonel Shue's desk, she gave them to authorities. She also opened her home and property to investigators, hoping they would find clues as to why her husband was dead. But it was all to no avail.
A little more than a month after Colonel Shue's funeral, Tracy received a phone call from a reporter with a San Antonio newspaper asking for a comment regarding Colonel Shue's mutilated body. Until this moment, she had not been told of this information by authorities. As the reporter filled her in on every graphic detail, Tracy, who always knew in her heart that her husband had been murdered, realized the true depth of the struggle for justice that lay ahead to dominate her life.