Honor your hero with thoughts, memories, images and stories.
Private First Class Gordon Eshom Shive
Contributed by Arsh Mengi
Mentored by Mrs. Laurie Halt
Costa Mesa High School
Private First Class Gordon Eshom Shive was born on January 10, 1921, to Grover L. Shive and Lois E. Shive in Irvine, California. He was a very bright, adventurous, and passionate individual with phenomenal leadership skills from his childhood. During his adolescence, Shive participated in several extracurricular clubs, including the letterman club in 1935 and the camera club in 1936. He was a Sea Scout in Laguna Beach, California, throughout his high school years.
At Laguna Beach High School, he was a well-respected player on his high school’s football team. After graduating in 1938, he enrolled in Fullerton Junior College in Fullerton, California, to study aeromechanics. While earning his degree, he took a vocational flight training class, which nurtured his aeronautical engineering passion.
On April 12, 1940, Shive withdrew from the Fullerton Junior College to financially support his family by enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Private First Class Shive joined the U.S. Marine Corps on April 13, 1940, at Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California. After completing his basic training, he enrolled in Sea School of Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, on July 3, 1940. In August 1941, he was sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i, and assigned to the USS Argonne. Later that fall, he was sent to serve on USS Arizona (BB-29).
The USS Arizona, along with most of the Pacific fleet, was moved from California to Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i, in April 1940. Over 800 U.S. Marines served aboard ships at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack. The Marines provided security for the Navy Yard and Naval Air stations at Pearl Harbor and onboard the fleet’s battleships, aircraft carriers, and some of its cruisers.
Known for his athletic and adventurous nature, Shive joined the USS Arizona’s whaleboat team. Aboard the Arizona, Gordon Shive was reunited with his younger brother, Radioman Third Class Malcolm Holman Shive. After a few weeks, both Shive brothers made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Present at the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, both brothers were reported missing and later declared killed in action.
Gordons Shive’s remains were recovered. Following a temporary burial at Halawa Naval Cemetery on Oahu, he was permanently buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawai’i. The family placed memorial stones for Gordon and his brother, Malcolm, at Olive Lawn Memorial Park in La Mirada, California.
On the Sunday morning of December 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m., the Japanese Emperor ordered the swarm of Japanese planes to attack Pearl Harbor, a United States Naval base in Honolulu, Hawai'i. In this devastating assault on American soil, over 2400 U.S. soldiers and some civilians lost their lives. In these casualties, there were 37 confirmed pairs of brothers, which included the Shive brothers.
Though the brothers went into different branches of the U.S. military -- Gordon to the Marine Corps and Malcolm to the Navy -- the brothers reunited. By October 27, 1941, both brothers served on USS Arizona. Sadly, this reunion was a short-lived one.
On December 7, 1941, USS Arizona was severely damaged by the bombs launched by Japanese torpedo bombers. The ship sank crewmen trapped inside it, including Private First Class Gordon Eshom Shive, aged 20, and Radioman Third Class Malcolm Holman Shive, aged 18. Along with 1,177 other crew members, the Shive Brothers gave their ultimate sacrifice to the country.
The tragic loss of Gordon and Malcolm Shive had a tremendous impact on the Laguna Beach community. On the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack and on Memorial Day, the Orange County Register regularly pays tribute to their sacrifice. Both brothers are memorialized on the Wall of Honor at Laguna Beach High School. There is a star after their names indicating that they lost their lives in battle.
Receiving the word that two of her sons were killed in the bombing of Pearl Harbor while aboard the USS Arizona devastated Louis Shive Westgate. Her grandson remarked that the pain was so deep that she could not bring herself to talk about them. Perhaps, she took comfort in the words that Gordon telegraphed to her on Mother’s Day, “Just remember this. That wherever I am and whatever I do you are always foremost in my thoughts.”
USS Arizona Whale Boat Team
Standing left to right:
Lawrence J. Griffin, Herbert A. Dreesbach, Marvin A. Hughes, John McRay Baker, Eugene Brickley, Gordon E. Shive, and Burnis L. Bond.
Kneeling left to right:
Francis J. Pedrotti, Robert C. Erskine, Robert W. Dunnam, Donald E. Fleetwood, David W. Bartlet and Russell J. McCurdy.
During the summer of 1941, the Marine detachment engaged in the Whale Boat competition with the Pacific Fleet.
We raced against other Marine detachments, and won. We pulled against all the divisions of our ship, and won.
In getting ready for the Fleet Championship run off, the USS Arizona had to field a team. The ship's captain, Franklin Van Valkenburgh, thought the best men from each division should make up the team.
Major Alan Shapley, our Detachment Commander, had been competitor at the Naval Academy (Class of 1927) in football, basketball and track. In 1926, he was also quarterback on the Navy eleven that won the National Championship. They went on to play the University of Washington in the Rose Bowl. He was also theManager and first baseman on the USS Arizona's baseball team.
With this background in competitive sports and his judgement of our Marine Whale Boat team, he thought all of his Whale Boat Marines were #1. Major Shapley suggested to the Captain that a two or three run off of Marines against the best Navy men would tell the story. The Marines won all the play off races and became the USS Arizona team in the fall fleet races. We finished runner-up having lost by two feet to the Fleet Champions from the USS Pennsylvania. I was part of that team.
On December 7, 1941, the only survivors of that team were Sgt. John Baker and me, Pvt. Russell McCurdy.
PFC Gordon Shive was awarded the Purple Heart.