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First Name: Lewis

Last Name: Hershey

Birthplace: IN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Blaine

Date of Birth: 12 September 1893

Date of Death: 20 May 1977

Rank: General

Years Served: 1911 - 1920 (National Guard), 1920 - 1973 (Army)
Lewis Blaine Hershey

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Lewis Blaine Hershey
General, U.S. Army

Lewis Blaine Hershey was born on 12 September 1893 in Steuben County, IN. 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 they had four children: Kathryn, Gilbert, George, and Ellen.

Military Career

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 and that same 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 Army and transferred to the regular forces. He was promoted to Captain in the U.S. Army in 1920. He attended the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. Hershey taught military science at Ohio State University and then served on the General Staff as G-4 at the Department of Hawaii.

In 1936, he was assigned to the General Staff in Washington, DC. President Franklin Roosevelt promoted him to Brigadier General in October 1940 and named him Executive Officer of the Selective Service System. On 31 July 1941, President Roosevelt named Hershey Director of the Selective Service and he was promoted to Major General in 1942. In 1956, he was promoted to Lieutenant General.

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

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. 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 2 January 1970 (in Bucher v. Selective Service System). Hershey was removed from his Selective Service post by President Richard Nixon after becoming a focus of anti-war protests.

Nixon appointed him as a Presidential Adviser and promoted him to General . At that time, he was the only four-star General to reach that rank without having served in combat.


As required by law, he was involuntarily retired from the Army on 10 April 1973 as a four-star general.

Hershey was a Boy Scouts of America leader and executive in Washington, DC.

Medals and Awards

• Defense Distinguished Service Medal
• Army Distinguished Service Medal
• Navy Distinguished Service Medal
• Mexican Border Service Medal
• World War I Victory Medal
• American Defense Service Medal
• American Campaign Medal
• World War II Victory Medal
• National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star

Boy Scouts of America Awards

• Silver Buffalo Award
• Silver Beaver Award
• 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."

Death and Burial

General Lewis Blaine Hershey died on 20 May 1977 in Angola, IN. He is buried in Section 7 of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 252   Created by: MHOH




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