PFC Gordon Eshom Shive

Unknown Sailor

PFC Gordon Eshom Shive

Radioman Malcolm Holman Shive asked to serve on the U.S.S. Arizona because his brother, Gordon Eshom Shive, a Marine, was already aboard.

Malcolm joined the Arizona on Oct. 27, 1941. Barely 40 days later, both were killed on Dec. 7 in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Their younger brother, Robert Pendleton Shive, recalled years later that his mother’s hair turned from brown to white overnight from the shock and grief of their deaths.

Gordon, the oldest of the brothers, was born Jan. 10, 1921 in Irvine, California. He graduated from high school in Laguna Beach in 1939, then attended Fullerton Junior College. He joined the National Guard in 1939 and the Marines in April 1940. He had been an athlete in high school,  and on the Arizona was on the whale boat rowing team. He was a private first class.

Malcolm was born Oct. 31, 1922 in Compton, California. He graduated from high school in Laguna Beach in 1941. He, too, had been an athlete. He joined the Naval Reserve in November 1940 and active service in June 1941. He was a radioman and petty officer third class.

A cousin, Marian Schooler, recalled years later that the boys were industrious. “At that time there was a bowling alley on the old boardwalk along the beach. The boys set pins to make money,” she told Don Chapman of the Laguna Beach News. “When Malcolm was 8 or 9, he was selling newspapers. Gordon would help the man in the milk truck.”

Their father, Grover, a carpenter, died in April 1935 of a brain tumor. Their mother, Lois Eshom Shive, remarried to a man the boys disliked for good reason. The 1940 Census listed her as the owner of a hand laundry.

The brothers were honored at a memorial service in February 1942 at Community Presbyterian Church in Laguna Beach. Gordon’s body was one of the few recovered among the Arizona crew and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at the Punchbowl in Honolulu.

Brother Robert, then 11, tried to enlist when his brothers died. Their mother took the insurance money she received from her other sons’ deaths and used it to send Robert to a military school. She did not want him to join the Navy, but he did in April 1947 and served until he retired in 1967.

The Orange County Register published a story, written by Andy Alison and Amy Wilson, in May 2001 that included an interview with Robert Shive.

He told about growing up and about his brothers. That Christmas, he shared the article with his two daughters. Until that day, they did not know their father had brothers. Robert had never before spoken of the tragedy that shadowed his life for 60 years.

Robert Shive died in 2017 at the age of 87.

Sources: The Orange County Register; Laguna Beach News; The St. Augustine (Florida) Record; Santa Ana (California) Register; military internment control form; California birth and death indexes; Census; Navy muster rolls. Navy and Marine photographs. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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