Pacific Northwest Seabees Remember Medal of Honor Recipient Marvin Shields

Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Batchelder

Date: 11.11.2019
Posted: 11.11.2019 17:52
News ID: 351314
Pacific Northwest Seabees Remember Medal of Honor Recipient Marvin Shields

GARDINER, Wash. - More than 100 service members, veterans, and families gathered to honor Medal of Honor recipient Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields at his final resting place during a Veterans Day remembrance ceremony at Gardiner Cemetery, Nov. 11.

The 53rd annual memorial service honoring Shields has its roots in being coordinated by the Navy Seabee Veterans of America and is a staple for the Shield’s family as well as Seabees, both in retirement and active-duty service, around the world.

“It’s a tremendous honor for Naval Facilities and Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Northwest to host this event every year,” said Capt. Chad Brooks, commanding officer, NAVFAC Northwest. “We have great support from other units in the area and it’s a privilege every year to celebrate the Shield’s family and the Seabee community.”

After his death from wounds sustained while defending his position and comrades in the battle of Dong Xoai during the Vietnam War on June 9, 1965, Shields was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest honor, by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966.

“Of all of the opportunities I’ve had to share my thoughts at different events and ceremonies, being here today is by far the most humbling,” said retired Command Master Chief Doug Heiner, currently employed at NAVFAC Northwest. “His Medal of Honor citation is the basis of legend and is retold every year as Seabee chief selectees are charged to keep our heritage alive.”

Prior to his service, Shields lived his life, working, hunting, and fishing, in his hometown of Discovery Bay, Wash., and later undertook a job at a gold mining project in Hyder, Alaska. He enlisted in the United States Navy as a Seabee in 1962 and married his high school sweetheart, Joan, that same year.

“Marvin and I would be celebrating our 57th wedding anniversary next Sunday,” said Joan Bennett-Shields, widow of Marvin Shields. “Today was exceptionally moving and exceptionally thoughtful and I’m very grateful for the Seabee family that continues to make this day very special for me and my family. We couldn’t do this without them.”

The event included the placement of a Medal of Honor flower box on Shields grave as well as a 21-gun salute rendered by the Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton Funeral Honors detail.

“For the Pacific Northwest, it’s a chance for the broader Seabee community to gather annually for this very special event and form a bond within our community,” said Brooks. “It’s very special to me, having served in the Seabees, and with many who come to this event, to play a small part in the large legacy of Marvin Shields.”