Private Riley D. Shockley

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NAME:
Riley D. Shockley
NICKNAME: SERVICE NUMBER:
334441
HOME OF RECORD:
Athens, AL
NEXT OF KIN:
Father, Mr. Clayton Shockley
DATE OF BIRTH:
1923
ENLISTED:
December, 1941
DATE OF DEATH:
September 25, 1942
(September 17, 1942)
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Guadalcanal B/1/1 Private KIA
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Unknown
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private
STATUS OF REMAINS:
Presumed buried in the field
MEMORIAL:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

Birth and Early Life:
Riley was born to Clayton and Dolly Shockley, farmers in Limestone County, Alabama, around the year 1920. He was raised partly in Alabama and partly in Chattanooga, Tennessee.(1) By 1940, Riley was firmly established in Chattanooga, living with his sister Lillie’s family (the Blakleys) and managing a grocery store.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
When the war began, Shockley hung up his apron and enlisted in the Marine Corps. He arrived at Parris Island in December, 1941; after graduation, he was assigned to Company B, First Battalion, 1st Marines.

Wartime Service:
Private Shockley served with B/1/1 from New River, North Carolina to their landing on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. For the next six weeks, he participated in front line fighting from combat patrols to defensive actions, all the while struggling to get used to the demands of combat, environment, and the Corps.

Date Of Loss:
Shockley’s platoon was in the lead of a patrol by their parent battalion, 1/1, on the morning of September 17, 1942. They were on the trail of Japanese troops who had recently been defeated in the famous battle of Bloody Ridge, and found them – or, more accurately, were found by them – around 1330 hours that day. The lead platoon ran directly into an ambush, and was completely cut off. After two and a half hours of fighting, the rest of the Marines disengaged, leaving the trapped men to their fate.

Eighteen Marines were lost in the Japanese trap. Their remains were not discovered until September 25, which was officially declared their date of death. Nine of these men – including Riley Shockley – are still listed as missing in action, their ultimate fates unknown. (2)

For more details about this patrol, see Platoon Sergeant Leon W. McStine.

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr. Clayton Shockley

Status Of Remains:
Unknown

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
_____
NOTES:
(1) Like many Southern boys who joined the Corps in the early days of the War, Riley had a strong connection to the military heritage of his home state. His grandfather and namesake, Riley H. Shockley, fought in the Civil War with the 35th Tennessee Infantry, and was drawing a pension in Limestone County until his death in 1924.
(2) No survivors were located by this follow-up patrol, led by Major Marion Fawcett. Although the Marines were likely all killed on the day they were trapped, they were officially declared dead as of September 25.

Why nine remain “missing” is unknown. Some at least were identified when buried, others may have been impossible to identify. Precise details are not known at this time, but it seems likely that the passage of time made some of the graves impossible to locate (a not uncommon occurrence on Guadalcanal). It seems likely that Private Shockley is still in a “temporary” grave.

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