George Searle Shepard was a native of North Easton, Massachusetts. He was born on 19 April 1896, the oldest child born to George and Mary Shepard. He was a 1915 graduate of Oliver Ames High School and entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) with the class of 1919, majoring in Agriculture. He was a member of Rho Iota Kappa fraternity, President of the Sophomore Class, Chairman of the Sophomore Hop, member of the College Orchestra and a clarinet soloist with the Glee Club. He participated in the Army ROTC program during his freshman and sophomore years.
When the United States entered World War I, there were 562 male students enrolled at Rhode Island State College; 334 left to serve in WW I. George, like so many of his classmates, left college after his sophomore year to enter the United States Army and began his officer training at the US Army Officer Training Camp, Plattsburg, New York. He received his commission as a First Lieutenant of Infantry on 15 August 1917 and immediately deployed to France. 1LT Shepard arrived in France on 7 September 1917 and was assigned as an infantry platoon leader, Company C, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. He was involved in combat operations throughout his assignment. 1LT Shepard was mortally wounded by enemy shells and gas while leading his troops on 4 May 1918 in Villers Tournelle, France.
First Lieutenant George S. Shepard was cited for Gallantry in Action and bravery and awarded the Citation Star and the French Croix de Guerre Medal (Posthumously).
For “Gallantry in Action,” by direction of the President of the United States, First Lieutenant George S. Shepard, United States Army is cited by the Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Force for “Gallantry in Action” and was awarded the “Citation Star” (Posthumously); and a “Silver Star” was placed upon the ribbon of the Victory Medals awarded him. First Lieutenant Shepard distinguished himself by gallantry in action while serving with the 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Force, during World War I. Lieutenant Shepard led a patrol into the enemy’s position as far as the second trench lines, obtaining valuable information. His patrol was unable to reach its own line before daylight and took shelter in a shell hole; and after a time, he led his patrol boldly across “No Man’s Land” to its own trenches. General Orders: Citation Orders, 1st Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Force, General orders No. 15 (31 March 1918).
The Silver Star Medal was not established until 1932. At that time, Veterans of World War I who had been cited for “Gallantry in Action” were awarded the Silver Star Medal in lieu of the “Citation Star.” The French de Croix Guerre Medal was instituted on 8 April 1915 by the French Government to recognize acts of bravery.
First Lieutenant George Searle Shepard was buried with full Military Honors at the American Cemetery in Bony, France. In 1920, the American Legion honored Lieutenant Shepard by dedicating the 1LT George S. Shepard American Legion Post 7, North Easton, Massachusetts, in his honor. Lieutenant Shepard was a son of Rhode Island State College who answered the call to service during World War I and gave his life in service to America during the “Great War.”