Tazewell T. Shepard Jr., retired Navy rear admiral and Navy Cross recipient

August 3, 2013
Tazewell T. Shepard Jr.
Navy rear admiral

Tazewell T. Shepard Jr., a retired two-star Navy rear admiral who was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism in World War II and was a naval aide to President John F. Kennedy, died June 21 at a rehabilitation center in Huntsville, Ala. He was 92.

The cause of death was a heart ailment, said his son, Tazewell Shepard III.

Adm. Shepard received the Navy Cross, the highest naval award for heroism after the Medal of Honor, for bravery during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942.

He was an ensign on the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco during an engagement with Japanese naval forces in the Solomon Islands. “With great coolness and courage,” his citation noted, he “remained at his post until his director station could no longer be operated.”

He then proceeded to rescue wounded men and organized an auxiliary first-aid station. “His tireless efforts to restore casualties resulted in the saving of many lives,” the citation stated.

As a White House naval aide from 1961 to 1963, Adm. Shepard was responsible for “the manning, the care — everything — about Camp David and the yachts,” he told The Washington Post in 2000. He also advised Kennedy during the Bay of Pigs crisis in 1961. He published a book, “John F. Kennedy: Man of the Sea,” in 1965, with a foreword by the late president’s brother, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Adm. Shepard commanded an anti-submarine warfare group during the Vietnam War and was deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the late 1960s. He later held a top Defense Department administrative post in Asia before his military retirement in 1973.

He then became an executive vice president of Occidental International, a Washington-based subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum. He retired in 1980.

Tazewell Taylor Shepard Jr. was born in Mobile, Ala., and was a premedical student at the University of Alabama when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. He received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and graduated with the class of 1943 in an accelerated wartime program.

After World War II, Adm. Shepard became a naval aviator and flew jets from aircraft carriers. He received a master’s degree in strategic warfare from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1951 and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1952.

A former Washington resident, he was a member of the Metropolitan and Chevy Chase clubs before moving to Huntsville in March.

Survivors include his wife of 71 years, Julia Sparkman Shepard of Huntsville; a son, Tazewell Shepard III of Mobile; a sister; and three grandsons.

— Megan McDonough

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