My simplest suggestion is to re-clone the USB stick using dd. That will make a binary copy of the drive, including the partition table, keeping the original partition numbering.
Short background on partition tables. GPT / Partition entries
Partitions are an array of entries describing each partition. The first partition is described in entry 1, second partition is described in entry 2, etc.
Therefore when asking to renumber a partition you are asking to blank out that partition entry and write the same partition details into another partition entry. Also your partition entries are not aligned to whole MiBs. The start of the first partition is at 32KiB. GParted can only create partitions aligned to MiBs so you can't use GParted to delete and then re-create the partitions.
What you want can probably be carefully done using sgdisk by manually deleting and re-creating the partitions to re-number them one at a time. I recommend my first suggestion of re-cloning the USB stick using dd.
appreciate the link and education on the partitions.
i have tried dd on the original esxi stick to a saved image on a linux machine. problem is when i first used USB Image Tool to clone that esxi stick, that clone software or win7 somehow changed the partition table on the stick as the above sgdisk --print shows. so, that stick will not boot now and when i `dd`the cloned image made by USB Image Tool or the image made by `dd` from-stick-to-image the data is there but the numbering of the partitions is (1,2,3,4,5,6) and not the (1,5,6,7,8,9) that vmware/esxi requires to boot.
on a few sites where others have had this issue who didn't have a bootable cloned image they mentinoed they changed the partition numbers.
glad you mentioned this can't be done in gparted but can/maybe done with sgdisk.
trying to wrap my head around how to "manually deleting and re-creating the partitions to re-number them one at a time"
does that mean deleting the partitions on say stick A and copying that partition from stick B to the correct numbered partition on stick A ? or doing all the deleting and re-creating on say, stick A? not sure how to delete a partition with good data and re-creating that partition.