Linn County

William Shanahan, Jr.



Three Cedar Rapids Men Are Reported Missing in Action
Cedar Rapids News—

Three Cedar Rapids men in the U.S. Navy are reported missing following action, according to telegrams received by their relatives from the bureau of navigation at Washington D.C.
They are:
William James Shanahan, jr, 23, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Shanahan, 812 G avenue NW (Picture on page 7)
Jack Asbury Breedlove, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Breedlove, 702 Third avenue SW (Picture on page 7)
Lawrence James McFadden, jr, 22 son of Mr. and Mrs. L. J. McFadden, 606 Ninth street SE.

Shanahan, graduate of St. Patrick’s high school in 1936, was signal man third class in the naval reserve.  He had been a Gazette carrier for many years and later was employed in the office of the Concrete Materials company.  He enlisted in the naval reserve Oct. 5, 1940, and was trained at the naval reserve armory in Chicago.  W. J. Shanahan, his father, was in the navy during World War I.

A Franklin high school graduate, Breedlove enlisted in the navy on his eighteenth birthday, Dec. 20, 1939.  It was on his twentieth birthday that his parents received notice that he was missing.  Born in El Reno, Okla., he came with his parents to Cedar Rapids in 1923. He was fire controlman third class in the regular navy.

McFadden’s wife, who lives in Wilmington, Calif., received the notice that her husband is missing.  A graduate of McKinley high school, he attended Coe college.  He enlisted in the navy March 9, 1938, and held the rating of yeoman first class, stationed in the executive offices aboard a ship in the Pacific.

Source: The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) – Monday, Dec. 22, 1941 (photo included)

Cedar Rapids Man Reported By Navy Killed In Action
(Photograph of W. J. Shanahan Jr. included)
William James Shanahan, jr., 23 signalman third class in the naval reserve, who was stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack Dec. 7, has been officially declared “to have lost his life in the service of his country,” according to a telegram from the bureau of navigation received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. J.  Shanahan, 812 G avenue NW.

Shanahan had been reported missing late last December and the telegram received here Wednesday announced that “after an exhaustive search,” the navy had been unable to locate him.

A graduate of St. Patrick’s high school in 1936, Shanahan was a Gazette carrier salesman for several years before going to work for the Concrete Materials company.  He enlisted in the navy Oct. 5, 1940.

Shanahan’s father was in the navy during World War I.

In addition to his parents, Shanahan is survived by three brothers, Robert, Tom and Pat, all of Cedar Rapids, and three sisters, Patricia, Margaret and Marilou, also of Cedar Rapids.

Source: The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) – Friday, Feb. 20, 1942

Military Rites Will Be Held Following Memorial For William Shanahan, Jr.

Military rites for William J. Shanahan, jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Shanahan, 812 G avenue NW, who was reported by the navy to have been killed in action at Pearl Harbor, will be held in front of St. Patrick’s church following memorial services, which begin in the church at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Conducting the military services will be the American Legion, the Navy Mothers club, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its auxiliary.  Navy Mothers are asked to meet at the church at 8:30 a.m. and to wear their ribbon badges.

The city council will attend the services in a body, Mayor Frank Hahn said Monday.  St. Patrick’s high school students will also attend in a group.  The memorial services will be conducted by the Rev. D. J. Lenihan.

Source: The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) – Monday, Feb. 23, 1942

Hundreds Attend Rites For William Shanahan, Jr.

The grief-stricken parents of William James Shanahan, jr., of Cedar Rapids, received the American flag draping the casket for their 23-year-old navy son still clinging to a shred of belief that he is still alive.

They stood with their two sons and three daughters in the raw wind, whipping across the memorial ceremony outside St. Patrick’s church Tuesday morning torn between the realism of the moment and the faint inward expectation that he will return.

The navy department officially declared four days ago that the signalman third class had lost his life in the service of his country.  The announcement said an exhaustive search had been made after he was reported missing at Pearl Harbor, but he was not located.

Source: The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) – Tuesday, Feb. 24, 1942

THEY SHALL NOT BE FORGOTTEN – Military rites for William Shanhan jr., officially report by the navy department as dead as a result of the Pearl Harbor attack, drew hundreds of persons to St. Patrick’s church Tuesday morning.  Church members, schoolmates and neighbors joined the bereaved parents and their children, standing at the left, in a memorial service.  Prayers were offered for the former St. Patrick’s athlete at mass preceding the outdoor service conducted by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Source: The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) – Wednesday, Feb. 25, 1942 (photo included)

Cedar Rapids sailor killed in Pearl Harbor put to rest nearly 78 years later

William Shanahan's funeral held in same church he was baptized in

Nearly 78 years after he was killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, William Shanahan Jr.’s remains finally were laid to rest Tuesday in his hometown.
His funeral was held at the same church he was baptized into in 1918 — St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. He was buried next to his parents, William Sr. and Florence Shanahan, at Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

The signalman third-class for the US Navy, serving aboard the USS Oklahoma, was classified as missing in action following the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 2,400 service members died in the attack. Shanahan was age 23 when killed.
The Navy confirmed July 12 that Shanahan’s remains had been identified, and they were received last Friday at the Murdoch Funeral Home in Cedar Rapids.
One of the last memories his only surviving sibling — Mary Lou Shanahan Pierce, 84 — has of her brother is of him leaving for the Navy.
Then only 7, she was upset that he’d miss her birthday, which was only a few days away.
Nevertheless, Shanahan Pierce recalled her brother being a “great guy” who stuck up for her, she said.
“We were a really close family,” she said.

Hundreds of relatives, family friends and people wishing to honor Shanahan and his service came Tuesday to his funeral.
Father Ivan Nienhaus, who officiated, said every U.S. citizen owes the Shanahan family “deep gratitude” for the sacrifice he made for his country.
“What inspired William to enlist in the Navy?” Nienhaus asked. “Maybe he saw the inalienable rights of his fellow Americans being threatened in the 1940s. In order to defend and protect life, liberty and happiness of others, he voluntarily surrendered his own freedom to a cause greater than himself.”
Following the funeral, Shanahan was buried with full military honors at Mount Calvary Cemetery. His sister received the burial flag as tears fell down her cheeks.
Carolyn Pierce, her daughter and William Shanahan’s niece, said her heart hurt for her mother.
“She lost her brother when she was very young, and waited for this day for a long time.”
Lisa Panek, another of Shanahan’s nieces, was the first to receive a call from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in November 2018, though at the time the agency could not conclusively confirm it had identified Shanahan’s remains.
“I sat straight up,” Panek said. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is the call our grandparents waited for over 70 years.’ It didn’t dawn on me until afterward when it hit me like a ton of bricks — I wish my mom had been able to get that phone call.”
Robinn Shanahan-Solner, niece to William Shanahan, said her father didn’t talk much about his brother — “he was the strong, silent type,” she said. But she does recall pictures of William Shanahan decorating her grandmother’s house.
Shanahan-Solner said she felt drawn to attend the receiving of the remains Friday and the funeral Tuesday to represent her parents and grandparents, who never got to see Shanahan come home.
Karey Dirks, great-niece to William Shanahan, said that putting him to rest gives relatives who waited so long for this day some sense of closure.
“Finally, after all these years, enough remains have been identified to bury him and lay him to rest next to his parents,” Dirks said.

Source: The Gazette, Cedar Rapids IA - Sept. 3, 2019 (By Grace King)

William James Shanahan, Jr. was born July 22, 1918 to William James (Sr.) and Florence Ann Schluntz Shanahan. He died Dec. 7, 1941 and is memorialized at the Courts of the Missing, Court 2, Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Petty Officer Shanahan served in World War II with the U.S. Navy and was MIA/KIA in the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was awarded the Purple Heart.