USMC Major General Lemuel Shepherd, Jr.

USMC Major General Lemuel Cornick Shepherd, Jr. (February 10, 1896 - August 6, 1990) examines maps with the Okinawan capital, Naha, visible behind him. Shepherd took command of the 6th Marine Division in August 1944, formed from experienced units - the 4th Marines and 22nd Marines - that fought on Guadalcanal, Eniwetok, Guam and other amphibious operations. The "Striking Sixth" landed on Okinawa on April 1, 1945. Shepherd had argued with Tenth Army commander Simon Buckner for a landing behind the Shuri Line by the 2nd Marine Division, but Buckner refused. After a protracted and costly month-long fight in rain and mud that destroyed many Marine battalions on Sugar Loaf Hill, elements of the 6th Marine Division finally entered Naha on the night of May 23-24. They found the city abandoned by civilians and encountered little resistance. The 6th Marines Division sustained 12,815 casualties on Okinawa, including 1,622 killed, 6,689 wounded, and 4,489 noncombatant. Estimates of Okinawan dead ran as high as 150,000. Naha was completely destroyed by American naval gunfire and air attack, despite its lack of value on as a military target. Shepherd went on to become the first Marine member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Note the boots worn by Shepherd and the men around him; they are 1943 combat service boots, which reached the men in quantity in late 1944. The walking stick may have been due to his wounds from World War I.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives
Date Photographed: 
Friday, June 1, 1945