Lewis Blaine Hershey

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Lewis Blaine Hershey
L. B. Hershey 111-P-200365.jpg
Lewis B. Hershey in 1973
Director of the US Selective Service System
In office
July 31, 1941 – February 15, 1970
PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Preceded byClarence Addison Dykstra
Succeeded byDee Ingold
Personal details
Born(1893-09-12)September 12, 1893
Steuben County, Indiana, U.S.
DiedMay 20, 1977(1977-05-20) (aged 83)
Angola, Indiana, U.S.
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1911–1920 (National Guard)
1920–1973 (Army)
RankUS Army O10 shoulderboard rotated.svg General
Unit Indiana National Guard
CommandsDirector, Selective Service System
Battles/warsBorder War (1910–19)
World War I
World War II
Korean 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.

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, son of Latta Freleigh Hershey (1858–1938) and Rosetta Caroline Richardson (1862–1898). He attended the local public schools and graduated from Tri-State College (now Trine University) in 1914 receiving a degree in education. He taught at local elementary schools and served as a school principal in Indiana.

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


Hershey enlisted in the Indiana National Guard in 1911. Hershey received a direct commission as a second lieutenant in 1913. In 1916, his guard unit was called to active duty on the Mexican border. The unit was relieved in December 1916. His unit was again called to federal service during World War I and sent to France with the American Expeditionary Force.

Hershey was raised a Master Mason in Northeastern Lodge 210, Fremont, Indiana, in 1916.

After the war, Hershey remained in the National Guard until he received a regular commission as a 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 six generals in the history of the United States Army to have served as a general during three major conflicts. The other five were Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott (War of 1812, Mexican War and Civil War), General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (World War I, World War II and Korea), Lieutenant General Milton Reckord (World War II, Korea, Vietnam), Major General Leo Boyle (World War II, Korea, Vietnam), and General Hugh Shelton (Panama, Gulf War, War on Terror). (Generals Reckord and Boyle were both long serving state adjutants general in the National Guard.)

Hershey was promoted to lieutenant general in 1956 and to four-star general on December 23, 1969.

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.)

The controversy over the Hershey Directive led to calls for his retirement. On February 15, 1970 President Richard Nixon appointed Hershey as Presidential Advisor for Manpower Mobilization and Hershey vacated the office of Director of the Selective Service.


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 on May 20, 1977 (only a month after his wife's death) and he is interred in Section 7 of Arlington National Cemetery.[3]

Hershey was 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 included the Silver Beaver Award and the Silver Antelope Award.

Hershey was one of only three Army officers to have served as a general during three wars (the others being Winfield Scott and Douglas MacArthur) and was one of the few Army officers promoted to brigadier general without previously holding the rank of colonel.

Awards and decorations[edit]

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

Defense Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg  Defense Distinguished Service Medal (1970)
U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg  Army Distinguished Service Medal (1946)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal 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 Medal 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 oak leaf cluster

Non-governmental organization awards[edit]

Masonic Grand Lodge of Indiana

Caleb B. Smith Medal of Honor

Sons of the American Revolution

Gold Good Citizenship Medal (1967)

American Legion

Distinguished Service Medal (1946)[5]
National Commanders Award (1963)


Silver Helmet Defense Award (1968)

Boy Scouts of America

Silver Buffalo Award
Silver Beaver Award
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 (Returned to active duty the next day.)
  • Lieutenant General – 23 June 1956 [6]
  • General, Retired List – 16 February 1970

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Honorary Degrees Awarded by Oglethorpe University". Oglethorpe University. Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  2. ^ "421 F2d 24 Bucher v. Selective Service System Local Boards Nos Etc". F2d (421). 1969: 24. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Burial Detail: Hershey, Lewis Blaine (Section 7, Grave 8197-D) – ANC Explorer
  4. ^ "2007 Silver Buffalo Awards for Distinguished Service to Youth on a National Level". Awards. Boy Scouts of America National Council. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2007-07-14. Has full list to 2007.
  5. ^ "Maj. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey | Distinguished Service Medal | the American Legion".
  6. ^ United States Army Register, 1964. p. 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]