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First Name: John

Last Name: Shalikashvili

Birthplace: Warsaw, PL

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Malchase David

Date of Birth: 27 June 1936

Date of Death: 23 July 2011

Rank: General

Years Served: 1958-1997
John Malchase David Shalikashvili

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


John Malchase David Shalikashvili
General, U.S. Army

Family and the Early Years

John Malchase David Shalikashvili was born on 27 June 1936 to Georgian-refugee parents in Warsaw, Poland. John is a scion of the medieval Georgian noble house of Shalikashvili. His father, Prince Dimitri Shalikashvili (1896-1978), born in Gurjaani, Georgia, served in the Army of Imperial Russia. After the Bolshevik Revolution, he became a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. When the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Georgia in 1921, he was on diplomatic service in Turkey. Dimitri then joined other Georgian exiles in Poland, where he met and married John's mother, Marie Antoinette, daughter of Count Rudiger-Bielajew, a former Tsarist general. They had three children: Othar, John, and Gale. Dimitri served in the Polish Army (along with other Georgian exiles) as a contract officer. In 1939, he fought against the German invasion of Poland. The unit was later incorporated into the SS-Waffengruppe Georgien and transferred to Normandy. Dimitri surrendered to British forces and was a prisoner of war until after the war. A collection of Dimitri Shalikashvili's writings are on deposit at the Hoover Institution. Meanwhile, Maria, John, and his two brothers lived through the destruction of Warsaw. As the Red Army approached Warsaw in 1944, the family fled to Pappenheim, Germany where they were reunited with Dimitri. They stayed with relatives there for eight years.

In 1952, when John was 16, the family immigrated to Peoria, IL. They were sponsored by Winifred Luthy, the wife of a local banker, who was previously married to Dimitri's cousin. The Luthys and the Episcopal Church helped the Shalikashvili family get started, finding jobs and a home for them. Dimitri worked for Ameren, and Maria was a file clerk at Commercial National Bank.

When John arrived in Peoria he spoke little English. He has recalled it this way:

"I spoke a little bit [of English]. But not much beyond yes and no and what time is it. And the stories that subsequently have been told that I learned English by watching John Wayne movies is only a little bit of a stretch... As school was over [at Peoria High School], I would run to the local movie theater. There I would sit through movies in order to learn English. In those days movies didn't start at a specific time and end at a specific time, but they would roll continuously... The first time through it wouldn't make much sense to me. But the second time through, it would begin to make a little more sense. Now in my memory, that is probably very faulty, a lot of those movies were John Wayne movies or at least were Wild West movies."

Shalikashvili went to Peoria High School, where he was a long distance runner. He attended Bradley University in Peoria, and received a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1958. He is a member of Theta Chi Fraternity. He later received a Master's Degree in International Affairs.

In May 1958, Shalikashvili and his family became American citizens. It was the first citizenship he ever held. He had previously been classified as "stateless" since he had been born to parents who had been refugees.

Army Career

After graduation from Bradley University, John had planned to work for Hyster Lift Truck. However, he received a draft notice in July 1958. He entered the Army as a Private, enjoyed it, and applied to Officer Candidate School. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1959.

Shalikashvili served in various Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery positions as a platoon leader, forward observer, instructor, and student, in various staff positions, and as a company commander. He was sent to Vietnam where he served as a Senior District Advisor in Quang Tri Province for Advisory Team 19, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), from 1968-69. Immediately after his Vietnam service, he attended the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

In 1970, he became Executive Officer of the 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery at Fort Lewis, WA. In 1975, he commanded 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery, 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis. He attended the U.S. Army War College in 1977 and then served as the Commander of Division Artillery (DIVARTY) for the 1st Armored Division in Germany. He later became the Assistant Division Commander. In 1987, Shalikashvili commanded the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis.

Shalikashvili achieved real distinction with his considerable success as the commander of Operation Provide Comfort, the peacekeeping and humanitarian activity in northern Iraq after the Gulf War. This assignment involved intense and complex negotiations with the Turkish government, and tough face-to-face meetings with the Iraqi military.

Shalikashvili was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President Clinton, effective 25 October 1993. He retired from the Army in September 1997, after serving for 38 years.

(John Shalikashvili, Walter Krueger (Germany), and George Kenney (Canada) are the only foreign-born soldiers to reach the rank of four-star General in the U.S. Army.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device
Meritorious Service Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal
National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal with Silver Service Star
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral 5 Device


Combat Infantryman Badge
Parachutist Badge
Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
Army Staff Identification Badge

Foreign Medals and Awards

Vietnam Gallantry Cross with two Silver Stars (Division Citation) and 1 Bronze Star (Regiment Citation)
Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal (First Class)
Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 Bar
Meritorious Service Decoration (Military Division), M.S.C. (Canada)
Bund Naturschutz Medal (Germany)

International Military Award

Inter-American Defense Board Medal

Civilian Medal

Presidential Medal of Freedom


In 1996, he was the first recipient of the Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award.

In Retirement

Shalikashvili was an advisor to John Kerry's 2004 Presidential campaign. In 2007, General Shalikashvili penned an Op-Ed in the New York Times calling for a reversal of Don't ask, don't tell. A similar Op-Ed by him appeared in the 19 June 2009 Washington Post.

He is now a visiting professor at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. He also serves as a director of Russell Investments, L-3 Communications, Inc., Plug Power Inc., United Defense, Inc., and the National Bureau of Asian Research.


Shalikashvili is married and has one son, Brant, a graduate of Washington State University

General Shalikashvili suffered a severe stroke on 7 August 2004.

Death and Burial

John Malchase David Shalikashvili died on 23 July 2011.

Honoree ID: 325   Created by: MHOH




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