Military Wiki
John J. "Jack" Sheehan
Born August 23, 1940(1940-08-23) (age 81)
Place of birth Somerville, Massachusetts
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1962-1997
Rank General
Commands held Supreme Allied Commander, NATO
Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Command
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Defense Superior Service Medal
Silver Star (2)
Purple Heart (2)
Other work Bechtel International, Sr. VP
U.S. State Dept. Defense Policy Board

General John J. "Jack" Sheehan (born 1940) is a retired United States Marine Corps general. His final active duty commands, culminating 35 years of service in the Marine Corps, were as the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) for NATO and as Commander-in-Chief for the U.S. Atlantic Command (CINCUSACOM) (1994–1997).

Life and career[]

General Sheehan was born on August 23, 1940, in Somerville, Massachusetts. The son of Irish immigrants, he is one of seven children. He graduated with a B.A. degree in English from Boston College in June 1962. After graduation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He holds an M.S. degree from Georgetown University in Government. His professional military education includes the Amphibious Warfare School, Naval Command and Staff College, and National War College.[1]

He served in various command positions ranging from company commander to brigade commander in both the Atlantic and Pacific theater of operations. General Sheehan’s combat tours include duty in Vietnam and Desert Shield/Desert Storm.[1]

His staff positions included duties as regimental, division, and service headquarters staff officer as well as joint duty with the United States Army, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the U.S. Atlantic Command.[1]

Prior to assuming his final duties as Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic and Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command on October 31, 1994, General Sheehan served as Director for Operations, J-3, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. General Sheehan retired from the Marine Corps on September 24, 1997.[1]

In 1998, Sheehan joined Bechtel International as a senior vice president.[1]


In March 2010 he testified to the US 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 'socialisation' 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.[2][3][4][5] 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".[3] Dutch Minister of Defense Eimert van Middelkoop stated that Sheehan's statement was "disgraceful," "unworthy of anyone in the military".[6] Prime-Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands stated that Sheehan's words are "shameful", "outrageous", "beneath contempt" and "disrespectful towards all troops involved".[7][8] 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.[9] The majority of the Dutch parliament voiced their support for the class action.[10]

On March 29, 2010, Dutch media reported that Sheehan had sent an e-mail[11] 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.[12]


His decorations and medals include:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Silver star
1st Row Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 oak leaf cluster
2nd Row Silver Star Defense Superior Service Medal Bronze Star w/ 1 award star & valor device Purple Heart w/ 1 award star
3rd Row Defense Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal Army Commendation Medal Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
4th Row Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation Navy Unit Commendation Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
5th Row 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
6th Row Humanitarian Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon Arctic Service Ribbon Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ 2 silver stars
7th Row Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation Vietnam Campaign Medal Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
8th Row National Order of Merit (France) Order of Merit (Portugal) Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary Royal Norwegian Order of Merit


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