About PFC Donald E. Fleetwood, USMC
Donald Fleetwood was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa around the year 1922. His parents, Claude and Elizabeth, ran a “machine & supply store” in Fort Dodge to support Donald and his older sister, Dorothy.
Fleetwood traveled to Chicago to enlist in the Marine Corps on September 9, 1940. After completing boot camp at MCRD San Diego, Fleetwood attended Sea School and was eventually assigned to the USS Arizona in early 1941.
Private Fleetwood joined the Arizona in early 1941, and served aboard her until December 7. During that time, he was promoted to Private First Class and competed with the battleship’s whaleboat rowing team.
The ship Capt. Van Valkenburgh thought the best men from each Div. should make up the team.
Major Alan Shapley, our detachment Commander, had been a competitor at the Naval Academy (class of 1927) in football, basketball and track. In 1926 he quarterbacked the Navy eleven that won the National Championship. They went on to play the Un. of Washington in the Rose Bowl. He also was the manager and first baseman on the USS Arizona's baseball team.
With this background in competitive sports and his judgement of our Marine Whale Boat Team, he thought all of his Whale Boat Marines were #1. He suggested to the Capt. that a two or three run off of Marines against the best Navy men would tell the story. The Marines won all the play off races and became the Arizona team in the fall fleet races. We finished runner-up having lost by two feet to the Fleet Champions from the USS Penn. I was a part of that team.
On Dec. 7, 1941, the only survivors of that team were Sgt. John Baker and Pvt. Russell McCurdy. Only 13 of the 87 Marine Detachment survived the Pearl Harbor attack.