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First Name: John

Last Name: Sheehan

Birthplace: Somerville, MA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: J.

Date of Birth: 23 August 1940

Rank: General

Years Served: 1962-1997
John J. Sheehan

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)
•  Gulf War (1990 - 1991)


John J. Sheehan
General, U.S. Marine Corps

John J. Sheehan was born on 23 August 1940 in Somerville, MA, to Irish immigrants. He is one of seven children. He graduated with a B.A. degree in English from Boston College in June 1962. As a member of the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, after graduation he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He also earned an M.S. degree from Georgetown University in Government. His professional military education includes the Amphibious Warfare School; Naval Command and Staff College; and the National War College.

He served in various command positions ranging from company commander to brigade commander in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theater of Operations. Sheehan's combat tours include duty in Vietnam and Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

His staff positions included duties as regimental, division, and service headquarters staff officer as well as joint duty with the U.S. Army; the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and the U.S. Atlantic Command.

Prior to assuming his final duties as Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic and Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command on 31 October 1994, General Sheehan served as Director for Operations, J-3, Joint Staff, in Washington, DC.

General Sheehan retired from the Marine Corps on 24 September 1997.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze Star Medal w/ Valor Device and 1 Award Star
Purple Heart w/ 1 Award Star
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Navy Unit Commendation
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 Service Star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal w/ 5 Service Stars
Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 2 Service Stars
Humanitarian Service Medal
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Arctic Service Ribbon
Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ 2 Silver Stars
Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)

In Retirement

In 1998, Sheehan joined Bechtel International as a Senior Vice President.


In March 2010, Sheehan testified to the U.S. Congress that, according to the Chief of Staff of the Dutch Army at the time of the incident, the fall of Srebrenica was caused by lack of readiness related to the Dutch being more concerned with internal 'socialization' of the military than fighting capacity. Sheehan stated it was in part due to homosexual men serving in the military. During the same testimony, Sheehan stated that gays weakened the army, while attraction between men and women in gender-integrated units would not. Speculation has it that Sheehan meant General Henk van den Breemen, Dutch Chief of Staff at the time of the Srebrenica genocide. General van den Breemen denied having said such a thing and called Sheehan's comments "total nonsense." Dutch Minister of Defense Eimert van Middelkoop stated that Sheehan's statement was "disgraceful," "unworthy of anyone in the military." Prime-Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands stated that Sheehan's words are "shameful," "outrageous," "beneath contempt" and "disrespectful towards all troops involved." Dutch advocates of gay rights, organized in the "Pink Army" (foundation) and the Stichting Homosexualiteit en Krijgsmacht ("Foundation Homosexuality and Armed Forces"), announced a libel lawsuit against Sheehan, demanding public apologies, and Sheehan following sensitivity training. The majority of the Dutch parliament voiced their support for the class action.

On 29 March 2010, Dutch media reported that Sheehan had sent an e-mail to his Dutch colleague, General Henk van den Breemen, in which he apologized for his comments. He stated that his memory of the conversation was inaccurate.

Honoree ID: 421   Created by: MHOH




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