Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.

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Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.
Lemuel Cornick Shepherd mlajsi.jpg
20th Commandant of the Marine Corps (1952-1955)
Birth name Lemuel Cornick Shepherd, Jr.
Born (1896-02-10)February 10, 1896
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Died August 6, 1990(1990-08-06) (aged 94)
La Jolla, California, U.S.
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1917–1956
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held Commandant of the Marine Corps
Marine Corps Schools
6th Marine Division
1st Provisional Marine Brigade
9th Marine Regiment
2nd Battalion 5th Marines

World War I

World War II

Chinese Civil War

Korean War

Awards Navy Cross
Distinguished Service Cross
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Silver Star (3)
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Croix de guerre
French Fourragère
Other work Inter 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 Chapter 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 year after reporting for duty, 2nd Lt. Shepherd sailed for France as a member of the 5th Marine Regiment with the first elements of the American Expeditionary Forces. He served in defensive sectors in the vicinity of Verdun and 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. 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, the Navy Cross, the French Croix de guerre, and was cited twice in the general orders of the 2nd Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces.[4][5][6] For his service in the war he also received the Montenegrin Silver Medal for Bravery.[7]

After duty with the Army of Occupation in Germany, Capt. 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 US 4th Marine Brigade 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.[8]

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, Major Shepherd was detailed to the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., as Executive Officer and as Registrar of the Marine Corps Institute.[9]

Following graduation in May 1937 from the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, he 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, he 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]

BGen Shepherd (left), Commanding the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and his principal officers view a relief map of Guam for the brigade's operation
MajGen Shepherd surveys a map after the Battle of Okinawa
Shepherd with Richard Nixon, 1954

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, he served on Guadalcanal. Brigadier General 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[5] in command of operations in the Borgan 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[5] 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.[5] 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.[5]


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 November 1 of the same year, he was ordered to duty as Assistant to the Commandant Marine Corps Headquarters. 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,[5] 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."[10] On January 1, 1952, President Harry S. Truman appointed Shepherd Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC).

During Shepherd's four-year appointment as the Commandant of the Marine Corps, he initiated a number of important policies that resulted in increased military proficiency for the Corps, one of the first and widest reaching of which was the institution of a General Staff System. 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.[5]


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 on August 6, 1990 at his home in La Jolla, California, from bone cancer.[3] He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.[11]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Shepherd was the recipient of the following awards:[5][12][13]

Gold star
Gold star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Fourragère CG.png
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Gold star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Gold star
1st Row Navy Cross Distinguished Service Cross Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 2 stars Silver Star w/ 2 oak leaf clusters French Fourragère
2nd Row Legion of Merit w/ 1 oak leaf cluster & valor device Bronze Star w/ valor device Purple Heart w/ 2 oak leaf clusters & 1 star Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 3 stars
3rd Row Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 star World War I Victory Medal w/ 4 stars Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal w/ 1 star Yangtze Service Medal
4th Row China Service Medal American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars
5th Row World War II Victory Medal Navy Occupation Service Medal National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Stars
6th Row United Nations Korea Medal Croix de guerre with Gilt Star Silver Medal of Bravery (Montenegrin) with crossed swords and palm[7][14][15] Haitian National Order of Honour and Merit
7th Row Haitian Distinguished Service Medal Order of the Cloud and Banner, Second Grade Order of Military Merit, Taeguk Cordon Medal[16] Presidential Unit Citation (Korea)
8th Row Naval Order of May, Grand Officer Argentina[17] Naval Order of Merit, Grand Officer Brazil[17] Grand Cross of Naval Merit of Spain[17] Order of Abdon Calderon, First Class, Republic of Ecuador
9th Row Military Order of the Ayacucho, Grand Officer, Peru Grand Cross, National Order of Merit of Paraguay Military Medal of the Army, First Class Chile Order of the Aztec Eagle of Mexico, First Class
10th Row Legion of Honor, Grade of Commander Order of Military Merit, Grand Officer Brazil Commander of the Order of the Crown (Belgium) National Order of Military Merit of Paraguay, Grade of Grand Officer

Other Awards and recognitions:

  • 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."

See also[edit]


 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. ^ Bruce, Philip Alexander; Stanard, William Glover, eds. (1919). "The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography" 27. Virginia Historical Society. p. 359. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Valor awards for Lemuel Cornick Shepherd, Jr.", Hall of Valor (Military Times), retrieved Apr 21, 2014 
  6. ^ United States War Dept. (1919). General Order 101. General Orders 1918: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 39. Retrieved Apr 21, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Virginians of Distinguished Service of the World War 1. Virginia War History Commission. 1923. p. 199. 
  8. ^ "50 Facts about the Marine Corps: #46". Cougar Scream (USS Washington newsletter) 1 (XXIII). November 8, 1941. 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. 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ "Lemuel Cornick Shepherd, Jr., General, United States Marine Corps". ArlingtonCemetery.net. December 17, 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  12. ^ Block, Maxine; Rothe, Anna Herthe; Candee, Marqorie Dent (1953). Current Biography Yearbook, Who's news and why 1952. H.W. Wilson Co. p. 539. 
  13. ^ "General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., USMC". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 2014-04-18. 
  14. ^ "Crnogorsko - Americka Odlikovanja" [Montenegro - U.S. Orders]. Montenegro-Canada: Crnogorski website U americi (in Montenegrin). Retrieved Apr 21, 2014. 
  15. ^ The Monthly Supplement: a current biographical reference service 7–8. A.N. Marquis company. 1946. p. 67. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ a b c United States Congress (Aug 27, 1958), Private Law 85-704 (S.3195), U.S. Government Printing Office, retrieved Apr 21, 2014 
Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Clifton B. Cates
Commandant of the United States Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Gen. Randolph M. Pate