Veteran of the Week: Fireman 1st Class James Grover Shirley

Published 7:35 pm Monday, May 4, 2020

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By MELANIE POOLE / Special to the Reporter

The Veteran of the Week is sponsored by the National Veterans Shrine and Register of Honor at the American Village — honoring America’s veterans and telling the stories of their service and sacrifice for the cause of liberty.


“The American Village is pleased to join the Shelby County Reporter in recognizing Fireman First Class James Grover Shirley as Veteran of the Week,” American Village founder and CEO Tom Walker said. “He is representative of the hundreds of thousands of Alabamians who have risked it all for the sake of our country and its freedom. To all veterans we owe a debt we can never fully repay.”

Visit the website,, today and add your loved ones to the Register of Honor. Help us honor, recognize, respect and remember our country’s veterans.

Here are highlights about this week’s Veteran of the Week:

James Grover Shirley was born on Oct. 29, 1923 in Helena, Alabama. In 1944, at the age of 21, he enlisted in the United States Navy and was shipped to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center for basic training. After his basic training was complete, he served as Fireman First Class aboard the USS Sable, Hull No. 1X-81.

The Sable was a training vessel used to instruct future Naval Aviators in successful carrier landings. All carrier landing training exercises on the USS Sable took place on Lake Michigan. Future President George H.W. Bush trained onboard the Sable.

In April 1945, Shirley was transferred to Camp Tadcen, a transient facility located in Shoemaker, California, to await further deployment. He was assigned duty aboard the USS Graylag, Hull No. AM-364. The Graylag was a steel-hulled mine sweeper built in Portland, Oregon.

At the conclusion of World War II, James received an Honorable Discharge and returned to his home in Hope Hull, Alabama, where he lived until his death in 2014.

Melanie Poole is Communications Officer for the American Village and can be reached at