Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr.

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Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr.
Lemuel Cornick Shepherd mlajsi.jpg
General Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr.
Born(1896-02-10)February 10, 1896
Norfolk, Virginia
DiedAugust 6, 1990(1990-08-06) (aged 94)
San Diego, California
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service1917–1956
RankUS-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands heldCommandant of the Marine Corps
Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps
Marine Corps Schools
6th Marine Division
1st Provisional Marine Brigade
9th Marine Regiment
2nd Battalion, 5th Marines
Battles/warsWorld War I

Banana Wars

World War II

Chinese Civil War

Korean War

AwardsNavy Cross
Distinguished Service Cross
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Silver Star (3)
Legion of Merit (2) w/ Combat "V"
Bronze Star Medal w/ Combat "V"
Purple Heart (4)
Other workInter American Defense Board, Chair[1]

Lemuel Cornick Shepherd Jr. (February 10, 1896 – August 6, 1990) was a four-star general of the United States Marine Corps. A veteran of World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, he was the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps. As Commandant, he secured a place on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gaining parity for the Marine Corps with the other military services.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Lemuel Cornick Shepherd Jr. was born February 10, 1896, in Norfolk, Virginia. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1917,[1] graduating a year early so he could enter the Marine Corps.[3] While at VMI, Shepherd became a member of the Beta Commission of Kappa Alpha Order. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on April 11, 1917, and reported for active duty at the Marine Barracks, Port Royal, South Carolina, on May 19, 1917.

World War I[edit]

Less than a month after reporting for duty, Shepherd sailed for France on June 17, 1917, as a member of the 5th Marine Regiment with the first elements of the American Expeditionary Forces (Army and Marine Corps troops), and arrived at Saint-Nazaire in western France on June 27. The 5th Marines became part of the 4th Marine Brigade,[4] 2nd Division (2nd Infantry Division), when the division was organized on October 26 in France.[5] The 2nd Division was placed under the command of Marine Corps Brigadier General Charles A. Doyen, who had been the 5th Marines commander. The 2nd Division trained with French Army veterans the winter of 1917–18.

Shepherd served in defensive sectors in the vicinity of Verdun. When the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) was committed to combat in the spring of 1918 to halt a German advance towards Paris,[5] he participated in the Aisne-Marne offensive (Château-Thierry) where he was twice wounded in action at Belleau Wood during the fighting there in June 1918. On July 28, 1918, Marine Corps Major General John A. Lejeune (Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, named 1942) assumed command of the 2nd Division. He returned to the front in August, rejoining the 5th Marines, and saw action in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives (Champagne) where he was wounded for the third time, shot through the neck by a machine gun.

For his gallantry in action at Belleau Wood, Lieutenant Shepherd was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross, the French Croix de guerre, and was cited twice in the general orders of the 2nd Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces.[6][7][8] He also received the Montenegrin Silver Medal for Bravery.[9]

After duty with the Army of Occupation in Germany, Captain Shepherd sailed for home in July 1919. In September 1919, he returned to France. His assignment was to prepare relief maps showing the battlefields over which the 4th Marine Brigade (5th and 6th Marines and 6th Machine Gun Battalion),[4] 2nd Infantry Division, had fought.

Between the wars[edit]

Shepherd returned to the States in December 1920, and was assigned as White House aide and aide-de-camp to the commandant of the Marine Corps, Major General John A. Lejeune.

In July 1922, he took command of a selected company of Marines at the Brazil's Centennial Exposition in Rio de Janeiro.[10]

In June 1923, Shepherd was ordered to sea duty as commanding officer of the Marine Detachment on the USS Idaho (BB-42). This tour was followed by duty at the Marine Barracks, Norfolk, where he commanded the Sea School. In April 1927, Shepherd sailed for expeditionary duty in China, where he served in the 3rd Marine Brigade in Tientsin and Shanghai.

Shepherd returned to the United States in 1929 and attended the Field Officers' Course, Marine Corps Schools. After graduation Captain Shepherd was assigned overseas again, this time on detached duty with the Garde d'Haïti, serving for four years as a district and department commander in the United States occupation of Haiti. Following the withdrawal of Marines from Haiti in 1934, Shepherd was detailed to the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., as executive officer and as registrar of the Marine Corps Institute.[11]

Following graduation in May 1937 from the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, Shepherd commanded the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, part of the newly formed Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Atlantic, which was being extensively employed in the development of amphibious tactics and techniques.

In June 1939, Shepherd was ordered to the Staff of Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, where he served during the next three years as director, Correspondence School; chief of the Tactical Section; officer in charge of the Candidates Class; and assistant commandant.

World War II[edit]

Brigadier General Shepherd (left), Commanding the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and his principal officers view a relief map of Guam for the brigade's operation
Major General Shepherd surveys a map after the Battle of Okinawa

In March 1942, four months after the United States entry into World War II, Colonel Shepherd took command of the 9th Marine Regiment. He organized, trained, and took the unit overseas as part of the 3rd Marine Division.

Upon promotion to brigadier general in July 1943, Shepherd served on Guadalcanal. Shepherd was assigned as assistant division commander of the 1st Marine Division. In this capacity, he participated in the Cape Gloucester operation on New Britain from December 1943 through March 1944, where he was awarded a Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious service[7] in command of operations in the Borgen Bay area.

In May 1944, Shepherd assumed command of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and led them in the invasion and subsequent recapture of Guam during July and August 1944. For distinguished leadership in this operation, Shepherd received his first Distinguished Service Medal[7] and was promoted to major general.

After organizing the 6th Marine Division from the brigade, Shepherd commanded it throughout the Battle of Okinawa where, for exceptionally meritorious service as commanding general of the 6th Marine Division in the assault and occupation of Okinawa (April 1 to June 21, 1945) he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal.[7] Subsequently, he took the division to Tsingtao, China. There, October 25, 1945, he received the surrender of the Japanese forces in this area for which he was awarded a second Legion of Merit.[7]


Shepherd with Richard Nixon, 1954

Several months later, Shepherd returned to the United States and in March 1946, organized the Troop Training Command, Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet, at NAB Little Creek, Virginia.

On October 17, 1946, Shepherd assumed the post of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.[12] He remained at this post until April 1948, when he was assigned to Quantico where he served as commandant of the Marine Corps Schools until June 1950.

When the Korean War erupted, Shepherd was in command of the Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Pacific, with headquarters at Pearl Harbor. In this capacity, he played a major role in the amphibious assault at Inchon, earning a Silver Star,[7] and in the evacuation of U.S. forces from Hungnam following their withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea in December 1950. In Korea he saw the usefulness and advantages of Helicopters on the frontlines and was amongst those pushing for the increase in number of helicopters in the armed forces saying "No effort should be spared to get helicopters ... to the theater at once – and on a priority higher than any other weapon."[13]

On January 1, 1952, President Harry S. Truman appointed Shepherd Commandant of the Marine Corps. During Shepherd's four years as commandant, he initiated a number of important policies that resulted in increased military proficiency for the Marine Corps, one of the first and widest reaching of which was the institution of a General Staff System. Shepherd presented the Marine Corps War Memorial to the American people at the dedication of the memorial on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps.[14][15] He was the first commandant to become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and upon his retirement on January 1, 1956, he was awarded a third Distinguished Service Medal.[7]


Two months after his retirement, Shepherd was recalled to active duty and appointed chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board. During his three and a half years of service with this international organization, Shepherd, through his leadership and diplomacy, made substantial contributions towards plans for the defense of the continent. He also promoted military solidarity among the military forces of the republics of the Western Hemisphere. He relinquished his duties with the Inter-American Defense Board on September 15, 1959.

Shepherd died at age 94 from bone cancer at his home in La Jolla, California.[3] He was buried with his wife, Virginia Driver (1898–1989) at Arlington National Cemetery.[16]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Shepherd's military awards include:

Fourragère CG.png
1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Combat Distinguishing Device.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg1 golden star.svg Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png
Bronze star
Army of Occupation of Germany ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Gold star
MEX Condecoracion al Merito Militar Primera Clase.png
Inter-american defense board medal ribbon.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg
1st Row Navy Cross Army Distinguished Service Cross French Fourragère
2nd Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal
w/ two 516" Gold Stars
Silver Star
w/ two Oak Leaf Clusters
Legion of Merit
w/ Combat "V" and one Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze Star Medal
w/ Combat "V"
3rd Row Purple Heart
w/ two Oak Leaf Clusters and one 516" Gold Star
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
w/ three 316" bronze stars
Navy Unit Commendation
w/ one 316" bronze star
World War I Victory Medal
w/ four 316" bronze stars
4th Row Army of Occupation of Germany Medal Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
w/ one 316" bronze star
Yangtze Service Medal China Service Medal
5th Row American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
with four 316" bronze stars
World War II Victory Medal
6th Row Navy Occupation Service Medal National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal
with two 316" bronze stars
French Croix de guerre
with Gilt Star
7th Row Silver Medal of Bravery
(Montenegrin) with crossed swords and palm[9][17][18]
Haitian National Order of Honour and Merit Haitian Distinguished Service Medal Order of the Cloud and Banner
Second Grade
8th row Order of Military Merit, Taeguk Cordon Medal
with gold star[19]
Order of Naval Merit
Grand Officer Argentina[20]
Naval Order of Merit
Grand Officer Brazil[20]
White Grand Cross of Naval Merit
9th row Order of Abdon Calderon
First Class, Republic of Ecuador
Military Order of the Ayacucho
Grand Officer, Peru
Grand Cross, National Order of Merit of Paraguay Order of the Aztec Eagle
10th row Medal of Military Merit
First Class (Mexico)
French Legion of Honor
Grade of Commander
Order of Military Merit
Grand Officer Brazil
Commander of the Order of the Crown
11th row National Order of Military Merit
of Paraguay, Grade of Grand Officer
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Inter-American Defense Board Medal
with two 316" gold stars
United Nations Korea Medal

Other awards and recognitions:

  • Military Medal of the Army, First Class (Chile)
  • Bronze plaque with Diploma Commemorative Especial (Brazil)
  • Commendatory letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (dated 15 Sept. 1959).
  • Marine Corps Historical Foundation's Distinguished Service Award "for numerous and substantial contributions to the history of the Marine Corps that span more than seventy years."


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

  1. ^ a b "'Letters, Diaries, Manuscripts. Military History' (see Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. Papers)". VMI Archives. VMI. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  2. ^ Marine Corps League. "Fighting for the Corps", Semper Fi, March/April 2010, 75–76.
  3. ^ a b Fowler, Glenn (August 8, 1990). "Lemuel Shepherd Jr., 94, Ex-Chief Of Marines Who Served in Three Wars". The New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Simmons, Edwin Howard (2002). "Organizing the Marine Brigade". The United States Marines: a history (4th ed.). Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781557508683. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Our History". U.S. Army 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division. United States Army. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  6. ^ Bruce, Philip Alexander; Stanard, William Glover, eds. (1919). "The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography". 27. Virginia Historical Society: 359. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Valor awards for Lemuel Cornick Shepherd Jr.", Hall of Valor, Military Times, archived from the original on April 21, 2014, retrieved Apr 21, 2014
  8. ^ United States War Dept. (1919). General Order 101. General Orders 1918: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 39. Retrieved Apr 21, 2014.CS1 maint: location (link)
  9. ^ a b Virginians of Distinguished Service of the World War. 1. Virginia War History Commission. 1923. p. 199.
  10. ^ "50 Facts about the Marine Corps: #46". Cougar Scream. USS Washington newsletter. 1 (XXIII). November 8, 1941. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved November 2, 2008. In August 1922, a detachment of U. S. Marines was assigned to duty at the Brazilian Centennial Exposition, held at Rio de Janeiro, as an evidence of the cordial relations existing between the Brazilian and American Governments.
  11. ^ "Gen. Shepherd's Record of Hard Fighting, High Awards" (PDF). The 'VMI' Cadet. XLX (9). Lexington, Virginia: Virginia Military Institute. Nov 20, 1959. p. 3. Retrieved Apr 21, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps". Headquarters Marine Corps, USMC. Retrieved 2018-08-12. ...the official title “Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps” was adopted in 1946....The first Marine designated as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Major General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. held the billet from October 17, 1946 to April 14, 1948.
  13. ^ Cited in B.Gen. Clayton C. Jerome's memo to ViceAdm Cassady, RAdms Soucek, Duckworth, Pride, and Goe, of 19 Sep. 1950, available on page 187 here
  14. ^ "Marine monument seen as symbol of hopes, dreams". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. November 10, 1954. p. 2.
  15. ^ "Memorial honoring Marines dedicated". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. November 10, 1954. p. 1.
  16. ^ Burial Detail: Shepherd, Lemuel C, ANC Explorer
  17. ^ "Crnogorsko – Americka Odlikovanja" [Montenegro – U.S. Orders]. Montenegro-Canada: Crnogorski website U americi (in Montenegrin). Retrieved Apr 21, 2014.
  18. ^ The Monthly Supplement: a current biographical reference service. 7–8. A.N. Marquis company. 1946. p. 67.
  19. ^ Meid, Pat, Lieutenant Colonel, USMCR; Yingling, James M., Major, USMC (1972). U.S. Marine Operations in Korea 1950–1953 (PDF). V Operations in West Korea. Washington, D.C.: Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. p. 159.
  20. ^ a b c United States Congress (Aug 27, 1958), Private Law 85-704 (S.3195) (PDF), U.S. Government Printing Office, retrieved Apr 21, 2014

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Commandant of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by