Military Wiki
Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.
20th Commandant of the Marine Corps (1952-1955)
Born (1896-02-10)February 10, 1896
Died August 6, 1990(1990-08-06) (aged 94)
Place of birth Norfolk, Virginia
Place of death La Jolla, California
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch USMC logo.svg 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 years

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

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 in the general orders of the 2nd Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces.

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

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.[4]

In June 1923, Shepherd was ordered to sea duty as Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment on the USS Idaho (BB-24). 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 entered the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island. Following graduation in May 1937, 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

BGen Shepherd (left), Commanding the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and his principal officers view a relief map of Guam for the brigade's operation.

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.

MajGen Shepherd surveys a map after the Battle of Okinawa

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 distinguished service 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 and was promoted to Major General.

After organizing the 6th Marine Division from the Brigade, Shepherd commanded it throughout the Battle of Okinawa and subsequently took the Division to Tsingtao, China. There, October 25, 1945, he received the surrender of the Japanese forces in this area. 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.


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 and the evacuation of U.S. forces from Hungnam following their withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea in December 1950. 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. 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.


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.[5]

Awards and decorations

Shepherd was the recipient of the following awards:[6]

Fourragère CG.png
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
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 French Fourragère
2nd Row Distinguished Service Cross Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 2 stars Silver Star w/ 2 oak leaf clusters Legion of Merit w/ 1 oak leaf cluster & valor device
3rd Row Bronze Star w/ valor device Purple Heart w/ 2 oak leaf clusters & 1 star Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 3 stars Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 star
4th Row World War I Victory Medal w/ 4 stars Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal w/ 1 star Yangtze Service Medal China Service Medal
5th Row American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars World War II Victory Medal
6th Row Navy Occupation Service Medal National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Stars United Nations Korea Medal
7th Row Croix de guerre with Gilt Star Medaille pour la Bravoure Militaire (Montenegrin) with crossed swords and palm Haitian National Order of Honour and Merit Haitian Distinguished Service Medal
8th Row Order of the Cloud and Banner, Second Grade Order of Military Merit, Taeguk Cordon Medal Presidential Unit Citation (Korea) Bronze Plaque with Diploma Commemorative Especial
9th Row Naval Order of May, Grand Officer Argentine Naval Order of Merit, Grand Officer Brazil Grand Cross of Naval Merit of Spain Order of Abdon Calderon, First Class, Republic of Ecuador
10th 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
11th Row Legion of Honor, Grade of Commander Order of Military Merit, Grand Officer Brazil Military Cross Second Class (Belgium) National Order of Military Merit of Paraguay, Grade of Grand Officer

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

  1. 1.0 1.1 "'Letters, Diaries, Manuscripts. Military History' (see Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. Papers)". VMI Archives. VMI. Retrieved 2008-01-11.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "VMI" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Marine Corps League. "Fighting for the Corps", Semper Fi, March/April 2010, 75-76.
  3. 3.0 3.1 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.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Fowler1990" defined multiple times with different content
  4. "50 Facts about the Marine Corps: #46". USS Washington newsletter. 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." 
  5. "Lemuel Cornick Shepherd, Jr., General, United States Marine Corps". December 17, 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  6. "General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., USMC". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
Includes transcript of General Shepherd's speech on November 18, 1955 at Belleau Wood for the unveiling of a statue dedicated memory of the 4000 Marines who died at Belleau Wood.
Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Clifton B. Cates
Commandant of the United States Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Gen. Randolph M. Pate

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