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Marketing Consultant Orville Cresap Shirey; Wrote of World War II

By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 11, 2004; Page B06

Orville Cresap Shirey, 82, a marketing consultant who wrote a book about his experiences with a famous Japanese American battalion during World War II, died of a heart attack Dec. 7 at Riderwood Village in Silver Spring, where he lived.

Mr. Shirey, an Army intelligence officer, was assigned to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was made up of Japanese American volunteers, many from Hawaii and the West Coast, who had been interred in relocation camps. The team, which later combined with the 100th Infantry Battalion, was the most decorated unit in military history for its size and length of service.

Orville Cresap Shirey was an Army intelligence officer in World War II.

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The unit, which won seven presidential unit citations and 9,486 Purple Hearts, served in Italy and France from 1943 through 1946. Its members won 20 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses and 560 Silver Stars. They liberated the small town of Bruyeres in southern France and rescued the 141st "Lost Battalion." They also liberated part of the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau.

Immediately after the war, Mr. Shirey, who received a Legion of Merit and a Combat Infantryman's Badge, wrote "Americans: The Story of the 442nd Combat Team" (1947), a book that is still cited as a reference for researchers. He later edited a similar book by another member of the unit, Chester Tanaka's "Go for Broke" (1982).

Mr. Shirey was born in Cumberland, Md., and received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Maryland in 1942. After World War II, he worked as assistant to the editor of the Infantry Journal, now Army magazine, where he edited more than 50 books, all histories of World War II units. He ran the organization's mail-order book service, which provided his entry into direct marketing.

In 1953, he started his own consulting business, which added partners, changed names and merged with others but continued to operate until 1987. Among his clients were the National Rifle Association, the Nature Conservancy, the National Geographic Society, U.S. News & World Report and the Air Force Association.

He was a former president of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington and editor of its newsletter for 10 years. He was the group's Professional of the Year in 1973. Mr. Shirey was known for his sense of humor, and he collected cartoons. He also enjoyed photography.

He was a resident of Silver Spring from 1945 to 1994, when he moved to Thurmont. In 2000, he moved to Riderwood Village in Silver Spring.

He was a member of Grace Episcopal Church in Silver Spring for almost 50 years, and for the past four years, he was a member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Silver Spring. He served on the founding board and was past treasurer at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac.

A son, O. Wilson Shirey, died in 1997.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Maud W. Shirey of Silver Spring; two children, Michael C. Shirey of Silver Spring and Catherine S. Luette of Westminster, Md.; and five grandchildren.

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