Lewis Blaine Hershey

Lewis Blaine Hershey

{{Infobox Military Person |name=Lewis Blaine Hershey |lived=1893-1977 |image=|caption=General Lewis Blaine Hershey |nickname= |placeofbirth= Steuben County, Indiana |placeofdeath= Angola, Indiana |allegiance= United States of America |branch= United States Army |serviceyears=1911-1973 |rank= General |unit= |commands=Director, Selective Service System |battles=Mexican Border {1916}
World War I |awards= |relations= |laterwork= }} Lewis Blaine Hershey (September 12, 1893 - May 20, 1977) was the second Director of the Selective Service System, the means by which the United States administers its military conscription.

Early life

He was born in Steuben County, Indiana. He attended the local public schools and trained as a teacher at Tri-State College (now Tri-State University). He taught at local elementary schools and served as a school principal.

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


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. That year he was commissioned as a 2nd 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 United States 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 1956, he was promoted to lieutenant general.

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.

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.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 a full General - up to that time the only four-star General to reach that rank without having served in combat.


He was involuntarily retired from the army on April 10, 1973 as a four-star general. Hershey died in Angola, Indiana and he is interred in Section 7 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Hershey is a recipient of the prestigious Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He was a Scout leader and executive in Washington, DC. His previous awards from the Boy Scouts include the Silver Beaver Award and the 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."

Awards and decorations

U.S. military decorations and service medals

Non-governmental organization awards



  • 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

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