WOODEN TRUNK GROUP ID’D TO LT. GEN ALAN SHAPLEY USMC - COMMANDED MARINE DETACHMENT ON USS ARIZONA DURING PEARL HARBOR ATTACK - SILVER STAR WINNER AND RAIDER

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Item Code: 128-1165

Alan Shapley was born in New York City on February 9, 1903. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1927. During his time at Annapolis Shapley starred in football, basketball and track. He also coached and played on the All-Marine football teams in 1927 and 1928 and later he refereed US Fleet boxing events.

During the attack at Pearl Harbor Shapley was commanding the Marine Detachment aboard the USS ARIZONA. After the ship exploded Shapley jumped in the water and swam for shore. While swimming he disregarded strafing Japanese planes and saved a drowning sailor for which he was awarded the Silver Star.

Shapley returned to the Pacific with the 1st Amphibious Corps and led the 2nd Marine Raider Regiment during the fighting on Bougainville which earned him the Legion of Merit with combat “V.” After that action Shapley organized the 4th Marine Regiment and led it at Emirau, Guam and Okinawa. He was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism on Guam and a second Legion of Merit with Combat “V” for outstanding service on Okinawa.

After the war Shapley served in Washington, D. C. in the Inspector General’s Office. He accompanied Admiral William F. Halsey on a Good Will tour of Central and South America receiving decorations from Chile and Peru. Upon his return to the US he attended and graduated from the National War College. Later Shapley served with the Fleet Marine Force in Norfolk, Va. and was chief of staff at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

During the Korean War General Shapley served on the International Planning Staff of the Standing Group, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and was sent to Korea as chief of staff for the 1st Marine Division where he earned the Bronze Star with Combat “V” and was decorated by the Republic of Korea.

In the years following the Korean War the General was stationed in Japan, Camp Pendleton, California, San Diego and Okinawa where he commanded the 3rd Marine Division. He commanded the Marine Corps Reserve in 1957 and then as commanding general, Fleet Marine Force with headquarters in Hawaii until his retirement in 1962 at which time he received the Distinguished Service Medal.

General Alan Shapley died of a lung tumor at Bethesda Naval Hospital on May 13, 1973. He was cremated and his ashes were buried at sea by the USS MIDWAY.

The first item in the group is Shapley’s wooden trunk. It meas. approx. 33.50 inches long x 19.75 inches wide x 15.50 inches high. Front has “ALAN SHAPLEY” over “USMC” in two-inch-high letters done in black paint. Lid is held by iron strap hinges and has a hasp lock on the front. Each side has folding iron handles attached. The body of the box has numerous scratches, some are deep, but overall the box is solid. Lid opens and closes fine and there are no major cracks or splits. The box looks to date from the 1930’s or 40’s.

With the box is a binder containing a nice 5 x 7 photo of Shapley in uniform as a new 2nd lieutenant. There is also a Xerox copy of his Silver Star citation, a newspaper clipping with photo and long obituary, his death certificate, and several photos of him in older life. Also, in the notebook are 17 original letters written by, or to, Shapley. The letters date from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. Most of the letters are between Shapley and his wife discussing their trial separation. There are also three letters from two of the General’s mistresses. The back of the notebook contains several 8 x 10 photographs of the General’s ashes being spread at sea and a letter to his wife informing her of his burial.

The lot also contains two separated drops from medals. The first has a basketball and laurel branch on the obverse while the reverse is stamped “GMAA 1924 BASKET BALL CLASS AAA.” The second drop is silver with the seal of the city of Detroit at center surrounded by a laurel wreath and a riband reading “DEPT. OF RECREATION CITY OF DETROIT” on the obverse. Reverse is engraved “BASKET BALL 21 WOODWARD BAPT. E. OLL.” General Shapley’s wife’s maiden name was Oll so the medal must be for someone in her family. There is also a complete medal with a red, white and blue ribbon with a drop that consists of a pillared arch with the Michigan State Seal at center. Under the seal is “CHAMPIONSHIP D.A.A.A. 1923.” Reverse is embossed with “BASKETBALL.”

Several magazines are also present. One is a program for the 9th Annual Navy Relief Rodeo on June 9-10 1956 at Camp Pendleton. There are two Marine Corps Gazette magazines for June and July of 1973, both mention General Shapley’s death. There is also a copy of Shipmate Magazine which also lists the General’s death. Also in the group is a reunion booklet for the 19th Annual 3rd Marine Division Reunion in July of 1973. Again, an obituary of the General is inside as well as two typed letters to Mrs. Shapley from members of the Division Association.

The next three items in the group are books of interest. The first is a 1943 copy of the ESQUIRE Magazine title FOOTBALL IN WAR & PEACE. Page 42 has a full standing photo of General Shapley as a young man in his football uniform while playing for Navy. The next book is an autographed hardcover titled “MARINES OF THE MARGARITA” The book runs 224 pages, is inscribed by the author to General Shapley with the General being mentioned four times in the text. The book covers the history of Camp Pendleton, California. The third book in this group is a 1989 copy of “100 YEARS OF ARMY-NAVY FOOTBALL.” Inside the front cover Mrs. Shapley has written her name and date. General Shapley appears on page 74 of this book with the story of how he tied the game with Army during the closing seconds of the 1926 contest.

The very last item is an actual U.S. Marine Corps Service Record Book made out for Henry Oll Shapley, the General’s son. Little Henry was born in 1933 and his father kept this record book as kind of a story of the young boy’s life. For instance, in the section where a Marine’s duty stations are listed the General lists everywhere his son lived from his birth in 1933 to 1942 and how he traveled to those places by car, plane etc... Under the heading for “OFFENSES” the General listed some amusing incidents in the boy’s life such as in 1934 when he was a year old he messed his pants while driving to Grandmas! Or, in 1936 when he was 3 and his mother was in the hospital having another baby, he suggested that his nursemaid sleep in his father’s room since Mommy was gone! In the space provided to list punishment for this offense the General wrote “SPANKED BY NURSE, GIVEN ICE CREAM BY FATHER.”

Though this group does not contain things like uniforms, insignia, equipment etc… it is still an interesting group from a man who was a hero in his own right and who saw A LOT of history and was present for one of the most famous military actions in American history and served aboard one of the most heralded ships of the US Navy during that action and who went on to lead a unit of Marine Raiders which were the best of the best.  [ad]

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