Private First Class Gordon Eshom Shive
- Unit: Fleet Marine Force, USS Arizona
- Service Number: 283832
- Date of Birth: January 10, 1921
- Entered the Military: April 13, 1940
- Date of Death: December 7, 1941
- Hometown: Laguna Beach, Orange County
- Place of Death: Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i
- Award(s): Purple Heart
- Cemetery: Section A, Site 464. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawai'i
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.
Until the 1920s, Laguna Beach was a city on the Pacific Ocean. Due to its location and beautiful beaches, the area gained popularity and attracted tourists and surfers. The area’s population grew from 363 residents in 1920 to 4,460 residents by 1940. Laguna Beach became a popular location for American writers, such as 1962 Literature Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, who fell in love with the city’s beauty and rented a home in 1935.
Driven by the rising number of tourists in the area, the city expanded Treasure Island Trailer Park of Laguna Beach, which grew from 30 to 200 trailers by 1939. By 1947, this number of trailers reached over 6,000 recreational vehicles to stop at Treasure Park each year.
In 1939, a devastating tropical storm flooded the area, engulfed most of Orange County, and severely damaged Laguna Beach city’s historical dock.
The city lacked a high school for its students until 1934, and all the students traveled to the neighboring town of Tustin to attend classes. After several individuals’ hard work and continuous efforts, the city opened Laguna Beach High School in 1934 by combining it with its elementary school.
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.”
Being a part of the Sacrifice for Freedom®: World War II in the Pacific program and having a golden opportunity to honor the Shive brothers and their ultimate sacrifice was a phenomenal opportunity and prodigious experience of my life.
The research I conducted as a part of this project helped me develop diverse points of view, which have enormously helped me to widely diversify and broaden my perspective to assess World War II history and its events more analytically. The information I learned while researching and investigating the stories of both Shive brothers has affirmed my belief regarding the significance of knowing history, why it is imperative, and therefore, why every individual should have profound knowledge regarding it.
Even though history is my favorite subject, I have nevermore been more engaged and felt intrinsically more connected to it, which I felt while doing this project. This opportunity did not only help me broaden my intellectual knowledge to evaluate history and its events and helped me add several unique aspects to personal and social life to assess everyday life events and their consequences with history.
California. Orange County. 1930 U.S. Census. Digital Images. ancestry.com.
California. Orange County. 1940 U.S. Census. Digital Images. ancestry.com.
Gordon E. Shive. California Birth Index, 1905-1995. ancestry.com.
Gordon E. Shive. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1789-1958. Digital Images. ancestry.com.
Gordon E. Shive. World War II Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Casualties, 1941-1945. Digital Images. ancestry.com.
Gordon E. Shive. U.S. Navy Casualties Books, 1776-1941. ancestry.com.
Gordon Eshom Shive. Marine Corps Casualty Indexes, 1940-1958. ancestry.com.
Gordon Eshom Shive. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962. Digital Images. ancestry.com.
Gordon Eshom Shive. Veterans’ Gravesites, c.1775-2019. ancestry.com.
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Gordon Eshom Shive, Official Military Personnel File, Department of the Navy. U.S. Marine Corps, Record of the U.S. Marine Corps, National Archives and Records Administration – St. Louis.
Shive Family Materials. 1930s-1940s. Courtesy of Gary M. Shive.
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“PFC Gordon Eshom Shive.” Find a Grave. Updated January 27, 2011. Accessed December 9, 2020. www.findagrave.com/memorial/64776410/gordon-eshom-shive.
“PFC Gordon Eshom Shive.” Find a Grave. Updated September 21, 2003. Accessed December 9, 2020. www.findagrave.com/memorial/7884116/gordon-eshom-shive.
“Shive, Gordon Eshom, PFC.” Together We Served. Accessed December 4, 2020. marines.togetherweserved.com/usmc/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=346818.
“USS Arizona (BB-39) Wreck Site – 1941, A Battleship Preserved as a Lasting Memorial of the Attack on Pearl Harbor,” Naval History and Heritage Command. Accessed December 4, 2020. www.history.navy.mil/research/underwater-archaeology/sites-and-projects/ship-wrecksites/uss-arizona-bb-39.html.
“USS Arizona During the Attack.” Naval History and Heritage Command. Accessed December 4, 2020. www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/wars-and-events/world-war-ii/pearl-harbor-raid/battleship-row-during-the-pearl-harbor-attack/uss-arizona-during-the-pearl-harbor-attack.html.