Captain Arnold J. Isbell Biography

Taken from the USS Arnold J. Isbell commissioning program.

See also family photos and ship commissioning.

Captain Isbell held the following awards:

Victory Medal, World War I, Atlantic Fleet Clasp
American Service Defense Medal, Fleet Clasp
Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal
American Area Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Purple Heart
Air Medal
Distinguished Service Medal
Winner Herbert Schiff Trophy, 1938, Emblematic of Maximum Safety in Aircraft Operation

Captain Isbell was born on September 22, 1899 in Oto, Iowa. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland in 1917 and he graduated from the Academy and was commissioned with the rank of Ensign, U.S.N., in 1920. He served in various vessels in the Pacific until 1923 at which time he was ordered to duty under instruction in flying. He received his wings and appointment as Naval Aviator (Seaplane) on 11 January 1924.

From 1924 to 1926 his duty involved flying in various categories, the most interesting being on the Navy’s first carrier, USS Langley. From 1926 to 1929 he undertook the postgraduate course in ordnance at Annapolis, Maryland.

Captain Isbell’s duty from 1929 until 1940 when he was promoted to the rank of Commander was principally concerned with flying and ordnance. He served on the original carrier Lexington, placed the carrier Ranger in commission and served on the Staff of Commander Aircraft, Battle Force.

Prior to the actual entrance of the United States in the World War II, Captain Isbell was actively engaged in operations vitally connected with the expansion of our bases. He was awarded the Air Medal for “Meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight as Commanding Officer of Patrol Squadron 54 during the initial selection and survey of US Army and Navy Bases in Newfoundland in September and October 1940.”

He was promoted to Captain in 1942 while in command of the Naval Air Station, Sitka, Alaska. In 1943 Captain Isbell took command of the USS Card, an escort carrier, for which duty he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for a notable record of German submarine sinkings in the Central Atlantic convoy routes during World War II.

Following his successful command of the Card, Captain Isbell was on duty with the Tenth Fleet, Anti-submarine Warfare, Navy Department, Washington, DC, for a year. He then reported to the Pacific Fleet for assignment as Commanding Officer of a large aircraft carrier. It was while taking passage on a carrier prior to assuming command that Captain Isbell lost his life when the carrier was hit by bombs from a Japanese plane off Okinawa on March 19, 1945.

The Arnold Jay Isbell Trophy Award is named in his honor.

Below: George M. Bunker, President, The Martin Company, and Admiral James S. Russell, USN, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, with the Arnold Jay Isbell Trophy. (Click on images for larger sizes.)

isbell_trophy01

isbell_trophy02

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