George C. Marshall (1880–1959) is the subject of the 20-cent stamp of the Prominent Americans series. Marshall had a long and distinguished military career. A graduate of the Virginia Military Academy, he served with the American expeditionary forces in France during World War I.
Between the world wars, Marshall served as a key planner and writer in the War Department, focusing on training and teaching modern, mechanised warfare. By 1936 he had risen to the rank of brigadier general. President Roosevelt selected Marshall to be U.S. Army chief of staff in 1939, a position he held until 1945. He was the first U.S. five star “General of the Army.” During World War II, Marshall was the chief military strategist for the Allies, directing forces in both the European and Pacific theaters of operation.
After the war Marshall served as Truman's secretary of state, and as such he introduced the European Recovery Program, popularly know as the 'Marshall Plan', for which he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize. He also served briefly as president of the American Red Cross and was secretary of defense during he Korean War.
The deep olive 20-cent Marshall stamp was issued the 20th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, October 24, 1967, in Lexington, Virginia. The sheet stamp was printed from plates of four hundred and sold in panes of one hundred stamps with gauge 11 x 10.5 perforations. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued regulations in the late 1970s requiring the use of lead-free inks, the Bureau found it difficult to match deep olive ink used for the 20-cent stamp, and so the Marshall stamp is also cataloged with a 'black olive' shade variety.
The stamp was designed by Robert Geissmann based on a Life magazine photograph of Marshall taken when he was chief of staff. Arthur W. Dintaman (vignette) and Kenneth C. Wiram (lettering) engraved the stamp. This was the first time George Marshall had appeared on a U.S. postage stamp.
The 18-cent stamp paid the foreign surface letter and air postcard rates and later was used to pay the domestic first-class letter rate.