Retired Gen. Shinseki Selected for 2023 Marshall Medal

Retired Gen. Shinseki Selected for 2023 Marshall Medal

Gen. Eric Shinseki
Photo by: U.S. Army painting/John Boyd Martin

Retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, a former Army chief of staff and Veterans Affairs secretary, is the 2023 recipient of the Association of the U.S. Army’s highest award.

The George Catlett Marshall Medal, awarded for distinguished and selfless service, is presented annually during the association’s annual meeting and exposition in Washington, D.C.

Shinseki, a native of Hawaii and 1965 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, was chosen for AUSA’s annual award for his decades of selfless service to the United States and particularly because of his many efforts to support the Army and its soldiers and veterans.

“Gen. Eric Shinseki has dedicated his life to serving his country and others. He is the epitome of a selfless servant, a leader of character and intellect, and a tireless advocate for our service members and their families,” said retired Gen. Bob Brown, AUSA president and CEO. “His deep commitment to America’s Army and the nation’s veterans has had a lasting impact, and I am proud the Association of the U.S. Army is recognizing him with our highest award.”

Born less than a year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Shinseki was inspired to join the Army by his uncles, who served in the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II, according to Britannica.

Upon graduating from West Point, Shinseki served two combat tours in Vietnam, first as an artillery forward observer and then as commander of A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry, according to the Army Historical Foundation. Shinseki was wounded twice in combat, including an injury during his second deployment that cost him part of his right foot, according to Britannica and his Veterans Affairs bio. He spent almost a year recovering but returned to active duty in 1971.

Shinseki, who has a master’s degree in English from Duke University, served as an instructor at West Point before moving on to assignments in the Pentagon and Europe, according to Britannica.

He would spend more than 10 years serving in Europe, including several assignments in the 3rd Infantry Division and as assistant chief of staff for operations, plans and training for VII Corps and deputy chief of staff for support for the Allied Land Forces Southern Europe, an element of the Allied Command Europe.

From March 1994 to July 1995, Shinseki commanded the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

In June 1997, Shinseki became the first Asian American to achieve the rank of four-star general, assuming duties as commander of U.S. Army Europe, Allied Land Forces Central Europe and the NATO Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

He served as the 34th Army chief of staff from June 1999 to June 2003. During his tenure, he initiated the Army Transformation Campaign to address the emerging strategic challenges of the early 21st century and the need for cultural and technological change in the Army, according to his Veterans Affairs bio. He also led the Army through the early months of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

He retired from the Army in August 2003.

In 2008, Shinseki was nominated to serve as VA secretary, serving from January 2009 to May 2014.

He is currently chairman of the Army Historical Foundation board.

The Marshall Medal, established in 1960, is named for George Catlett Marshall, who served as Army chief of staff, secretary of state and secretary of defense.

Past recipients of the Marshall Medal include Generals of the Army Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley; Presidents Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush; actor, director, musician, producer and philanthropist Gary Sinise; and retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, the former Army chief of staff and former AUSA president.

In 2022, AUSA awarded the Marshall Medal to Elizabeth Dole, a former U.S. senator and two-time cabinet secretary whose foundation is dedicated to those who care for a wounded, injured or ill service member or veteran.