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John J. Sheehan

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Jack Sheehan
Born (1940-08-23) August 23, 1940 (age 83)
Somerville, Massachusetts
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1962–1997
Commands heldSupreme Allied Commander Atlantic, NATO
Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star
Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze Star (2) w/ Valor V
Purple Heart (2)
Other workBechtel International, Sr. VP
U.S. State Dept. Defense Policy Board

John Joseph "Jack" Sheehan[1] (born August 23, 1940) is a retired United States Marine Corps general. His final active duty commands, culminating 35 years of service in the Marine Corps, were as the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) for NATO and as Commander-in-Chief for the U.S. Atlantic Command (CINCUSACOM) (1994–1997).

Life and career[edit]

Sheehan was born on August 23, 1940, in Somerville, Massachusetts.[2] The son of Irish immigrants, he is one of seven children. He graduated with a B.A. degree in English from Boston College in June 1962. After graduation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. As a captain, Sheehan was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry during combat operations from September 14 to 17, 1968. He holds an M.S. degree from Georgetown University in Government. His professional military education includes the Amphibious Warfare School, Naval Command and Staff College, and National War College.[3]

He served in various command positions ranging from company commander to brigade commander in both the Atlantic and Pacific theater of operations. Sheehan assumed command of 8th Marine Regiment from 14 November 1986 to 16 May 1988.[4] Sheehan's served a combat tour in Desert Shield/Desert Storm.[3] His staff positions included duties as regimental, division, and service headquarters staff officer as well as joint duty with the United States Army, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the U.S. Atlantic Command.[3]

Before assuming his final duties as Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic and Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command on October 31, 1994, General Sheehan served as Director for Operations, J-3, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. General Sheehan retired from the Marine Corps on September 24, 1997.[3]

In 1998, Sheehan joined Bechtel International as a senior vice president.[3] While remaining with Bechtel, Sheehan joined the Military Officers Association of America board of directors in 2012. He became chairman of the board in 2016.[5]


In March 2010 he testified to the US Congress that according to the chief of staff of the Dutch Army at the time of the incident, the fall of Srebrenica was caused by lack of readiness related to the Dutch being more concerned with internal 'socialisation' of the military than fighting capacity. Sheehan stated it was in part due to homosexual men serving in the military. During the same testimony, Sheehan stated that gays weakened the army, while attraction between men and women in gender-integrated units would not.[6][7][8][9] Speculation has it that Sheehan meant General Henk van den Breemen, Dutch chief of staff at the time of the Srebrenica genocide. General van den Breemen denied having said such a thing and called Sheehan's comments "total nonsense".[7] Dutch Minister of Defense Eimert van Middelkoop stated that Sheehan's statement was "disgraceful," "unworthy of anyone in the military".[10] Prime-Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands stated that Sheehan's words are "shameful", "outrageous", "beneath contempt" and "disrespectful towards all troops involved".[11][12] Dutch advocates of gay rights, organized in the Pink Army (foundation) and the Stichting Homosexualiteit en Krijgsmacht ("Foundation Homosexuality and Armed Forces"), announced a libel lawsuit against Sheehan, demanded public apologies, and for Sheehan to follow sensitivity training.[13] The majority of the Dutch parliament voiced their support for the class action.[14]

On March 29, 2010, Dutch media reported that Sheehan had sent an e-mail[15] to his Dutch colleague General Henk van den Breemen in which he apologized for his comments. He stated that his memory of the conversation was inaccurate.[16]

Awards and decorations[edit]

His decorations and medals include:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Gold star
Bronze star
Silver star
1st Row Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 oak leaf cluster
2nd Row Silver Star Defense Superior Service Medal Bronze Star w/ 1 award star & valor device Purple Heart w/ 1 award star
3rd Row Defense Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal Army Commendation Medal Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
4th Row Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation Navy Unit Commendation Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
5th Row National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal w/ 5 service stars Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 2 service stars
6th Row Humanitarian Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon Arctic Service Ribbon Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ 2 silver stars
7th Row Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal, 2nd class National Order of Merit (France), Officer Order of Merit (Portugal), Grand Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Commander's Cross with Star (Military)
8th Row Royal Norwegian Order of Merit, Grand Cross Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Vietnam Campaign Medal Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Badge Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps and Reserve Officers on Active Duty. Bureau of Naval Personnel. January 1, 1965. p. 940.
  2. ^ Department of Defense Appropriations for 1998: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fifth Congress, First Session. 2002. ISBN 9780160692451.
  3. ^ a b c d e "History Division". Tecom.usmc.mil. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
  4. ^ "2ND MARINE DIVISION AND ITS REGIMENTS" (PDF). www.usmcu.edu. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-10-26. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  5. ^ "Board of Directors" Archived 2017-12-04 at the Wayback Machine, Military Officers Association of America, Alexandria, Virginia, accessed 3 December 2017.
  6. ^ "General Sheehan: gays responsible for Srebrenica massacre" on YouTube
  7. ^ a b "Dutch fuming at retired US general's gays comment". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2010-03-19.[dead link]
  8. ^ Sheehan: Gays weakened European militaries
  9. ^ Retired U.S. general links gays in army to genocide Archived 2010-03-23 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "'Anti-homo uitspraken Sheehan militair onwaardig' [Blik op Nieuws.nl - Zuid Holland]". Blikopnieuws.nl. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
  11. ^ "Balkenende: uitlating generaal over homoseksuele militairen schandelijk - Trouw" (in Dutch). Trouw.nl. 2010-03-19. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
  12. ^ Ben Berkowitz (2010-03-19). "Dutch lash out at gay link in Srebrenica massacre". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
  13. ^ (in Dutch)"Homostichtingen willen excuses van Sheehan" Archived 2012-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ (in Dutch) "Kamer steunts excuuseis general Sheehan"
  15. ^ "Email Sheehan to Van den Breemen"[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ (in Dutch)"VS-general Sheehan apologizes."

External links[edit]