Upon returning to civilian life Mr. Shea became a management analyst at Headquarters Air Transport Command, the predecessor of Military Airlift Command. He held numerous responsible positions in the headquarters, but most importantly he served as the MAC Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans from 1960 through 1983. In that capacity his most outstanding, enduring accomplishments included shaping and developing broad MAC concepts, policies, and long-range objectives which enabled the Military Airlift Command to meet its dynamic mission. Mr. Shea provided the guidance and expertise needed for future weapons systems planning and for maintaining a viable civil air capability for use in national emergencies. He also advised the Commander in Chief on legislative policies and was an especially dynamic force in defining the relationship between MAC and the National Defense Transportation Association’s Military Airlift Committee, which provides a forum for CINCMAC and civilian transportation industry executives to discuss national transportation needs. As a nationally recognized authority on air transportation, Mr. Shea was eminently successful in bringing MAC programs to fruition through his close working relationship with civil aviation executives. He worked extensively with Congress and often appeared before congressional committees and subcommittees to share his expertise on military airlift policy and doctrine.
The Emergency Cargo Airlift Capabilities Study, conceived and orchestrated by Mr. Shea, proposed modifying commercial wide-bodied passenger aircraft, enabling the modified aircraft to carry military cargo during a national emergency or war. He provided expertise to NATO in planning for the NATO-member nations’ civil air augmentation of military airlift resources and headed a task force which assessed military and commercial requirements for a new generation of cargo aircraft.
Mr. Shea received many prestigious awards during his long and distinguished career: The Air Force Commendation for Meritorious Civilian Service (1958); the Secretary of the Air Force Certificate for Honorary Recognition of High-Grade Personnel (1965); the Secretary of the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service Award (1975); and MAC Outstanding Civilian of the Year (1970 and 1977). He was the Secretary of the Air Force nominee for the Rockefeller Public Service Award (1976), was nominated for the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy (1976); and was nominated for the Eugene F. Zuckert Management Award (1979 and 1980). In 1980, he received the Presidential rank of Meritorious Executive in the Senior Executive Service. In December 1980, he was again presented the Secretary of the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service Award. In 1981, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger presented Mr. Shea the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award.
Mr. Shea retired from Senior Executive Service in 1983.