Lewis Blaine Hershey

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Lewis Blaine Hershey (September 12, 1893 – May 20, 1977) was a United States Army general who served as the second Director of the Selective Service System, the means by which the United States administers its military conscription.
Lewis Blaine Hershey
Born (1893-09-12)September 12, 1893
Steuben County, Indiana, U.S.
Died May 20, 1977(1977-05-20) (aged 83)
Angola, Indiana, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1911-1920 (National Guard)
1920-1973 (Army)
Rank US Army O10 shoulderboard rotated.svg General
Unit Indiana National Guard
Commands held Director, Selective Service System
Battles/wars Mexican Border {1916}
World War I
World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War

Lewis Blaine Hershey (September 12, 1893 – May 20, 1977) was a United States Army general who served as the second Director of the Selective Service System, the means by which the United States administers its military conscription.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Steuben County, Indiana. He attended the local public schools and trained as a teacher at Tri-State College (now Trine University). He taught at local elementary schools and served as a school principal.

He married Ellen Dygert (1892–1977) and had four children: Kathryn, Gilbert, George, and Ellen.


He enlisted in the Indiana National Guard in 1911. In 1916, his guard unit was called to active duty on the Mexican border. The unit was relieved in December 1916. That year he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. His unit was again called to federal service during World War I and sent to France with the American Expeditionary Force.

After the war, Hershey remained in the National Guard until promoted to captain in the Regular Army in 1920. He attended the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. Hershey taught military science at the Ohio State University and then served in the general staff as G-4 at the Department of Hawaii.


In 1936, he was assigned to the General Staff in Washington, DC. In October 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt promoted him to brigadier general and named him executive officer of the Selective Service System. On July 31, 1941, President Roosevelt named Hershey director of the Selective Service. In 1942, Hershey was promoted to major general. While officially retiring on December 31, 1946, he was retained on active duty starting the next day.

He was the longest-serving director in the history of the Selective Service System, and held the position until February 15, 1970, spanning World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

General Hershey was one of only three generals in the history of the United States Army to have served as a general during three major conflicts. The other two were Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott (War of 1812, Mexican War and Civil War) and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (World War I, World War II and Korea).

In October 1967, in response to increasing demonstrations against military recruiting on college campuses, Hershey issued an order which became known as "The Hershey Directive," that anyone demonstrating against a military recruiter could be subject to immediate Selective Service reclassification of their draft status, meaning those students who demonstrated would be at risk of being immediately drafted.[1] This order outraged students, many of whom were not subject to being drafted due to education deferments, and campus demonstrations against the war (and Hershey's order) increased. The Supreme Court voided this order on January 2, 1970 (in Bucher v. Selective Service System).[2] Hershey was removed from his Selective Service post on February 16, 1970 by President Richard Nixon after becoming a focus of anti-war protests, and replaced by Curtis Tarr.

Nixon appointed him as a presidential adviser and promoted him to a full General - up to that time the only four-star General to reach that rank without having served in combat.[citation needed]

In 1943, he received an honorary degree in Doctor of Laws from Oglethorpe University.[3]


As required by law, Hershey was involuntarily retired from the army on April 10, 1973, at the age of 79, as a four-star general. Hershey died in Angola, Indiana (only a month after his wife's death) and he is interred in Section 7 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Hershey is a recipient of the prestigious Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America.[4] He was a Scout leader and executive in Washington, DC. His previous awards from the Boy Scouts include the Silver Beaver Award and the Silver Antelope Award.


"Between a fellow who is stupid and honest and one who is smart and crooked, I will take the first. I won't get much out of him, but with that other guy I can't keep what I've got."

"I hate to think of the day my grandchildren will be defended by volunteers."

"A boy becomes an adult three years before his parents think he does, and about two years after he thinks he does."

Awards and decorations[edit]

U.S. military decorations and service medals[edit]

Defense Distinguished Service ribbon.svg  Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg  Army Distinguished Service Medal (1946)
Navy Distinguished Service ribbon.svg  Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Mexican Border Service Medal ribbon.svg  Mexican Border Service Medal
World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg  World War I Victory Medal
American Defense Service ribbon.svg  American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg  American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg  World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg  National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star

Non-governmental organization awards[edit]

Silver Buffalo Award.png Silver Buffalo Award
Silver Beaver Award.png Silver Beaver Award
Silver Antelope Award.png Silver Antelope Award


  • 2nd Lieutenant - 17 June 1913
  • 1st Lieutenant - 9 February 1916
  • Captain (temporary) - 27 May 1918
  • Captain - 3 September 1920
  • Major - 1 August 1935
  • Lieutenant Colonel - 12 September 1940
  • Colonel - Never held
  • Brigadier General - 16 November 1940
  • Major General - 28 April 1942
  • Lieutenant General - Some sources state Hershey was promoted to lieutenant general on 23 June 1956 but this is not confirmed by the Army Register.
  • General - 16 February 1970

See also[edit]

General Hersheybar - Parody of Hershey, a satirical character of the Vietnam War-era protest movement.



  • Who Was Who in America, Vol. VII, 1977 - 1981. Chicago:Marquis Who's Who, p. 270.
  • National Cyclopædia of American Biography, Vol. F (1942) New York: James T. White & Co. p. 47.

External links[edit]