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. In 1943, he received an honorary degree in Doctor of Laws from Oglethorpe University.[1] 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).

On October 24, 1967, in response to increasing demonstrations against military recruiting on college campuses, Hershey issued Local Board Memorandum No. 85, since known as the Hershey Directive, which recommended that when a draft card was abandoned or mutilated that registrant should be declared "a delinquent for failure to have the card in his possession" and then be reclassified as available for service. Two days later, he sent a letter to local boards suggesting that violators of any portion of the Selective Service Act or Regulations be treated as delinquent. Notably, he said that such violations included "illegal activity which interferes with recruiting," which was assumed to mean demonstrating against military recruiters. Unlike the Memorandum, the letter was unofficial. 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. Various Supreme Court cases voided the Memorandum, and after one of them Hershey withdrew it with Memorandum No. 101, on January 21, 1970. The most explicit overruling of the Memorandum and Letter came in a decision from the United States Court of Appeals Third Circuit in Bucher v. Selective Service System[2] on January 2, 1970, which ruled that there is "no statutory authorization for such reclassification," but did not rule on First Amendment issues:

Since we have reached the conclusion that the delinquency reclassifications here are invalid for the separate and independent reasons that (1) they violate the constitutional procedural due process guarantees of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and (2) they lack statutory authorization, we find it unnecessary to advert to the plaintiffs' contention that the reclassifications violate their First Amendment rights.

(Many online articles erroneously refer to Bucher v. Selective Service System as a Supreme Court decision.)

Nixon appointed Hershey 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]


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. He was one of the very few members of the U.S. Army to be allowed to serve beyond the mandatory retirement age of 64 since it was established shortly after the American Civil War.

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 was a recipient of the prestigious Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America.[3] He was a Scout leader and executive in Washington, DC. His previous awards from the Boy Scouts included 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 (1970)
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]

Boy Scouts of America

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


  • Private, Indiana National Guard - 16 February 1911
  • Corporal - 10 June 1912
  • Sergeant - 28 May 1913
  • 2nd Lieutenant, NGUS - 17 June 1913
  • 1st Lieutenant, NGUS - 9 February 1916
  • Captain, NGUS (temporary) - 27 May 1918
  • Captain, Regular Army - 3 September 1920
  • Major, Regular Army - 1 August 1935
  • Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army - 12 September 1940
  • Colonel - Never held
  • Brigadier General, Army of the United States - 16 November 1940
  • Major General, Army of the United States - 28 April 1942
  • Retired - 31 December 1946
  • Lieutenant General - 23 June 1956 [4]
  • General, Retired List - 16 February 1970

See also[edit]

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


  1. ^ "Honorary Degrees Awarded by Oglethorpe University". Oglethorpe University. Retrieved 2015-03-14. 
  2. ^ http://openjurist.org/421/f2d/24/bucher-v-selective-service-system-local-boards-nos-etc
  3. ^ "2007 Silver Buffalo Awards for Distinguished Service to Youth on a National Level". Awards. Boy Scouts of America National Council. 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-14.  Has full list to 2007.
  4. ^ United States Army Register, 1964. pg. 593.


  • 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]