Archive for the ‘People’ Category

RDSN Jim Morris

September 5, 2009

RDSN Jim Morris stood quarterdeck watch in about October 1973. Jim was on the Isbell from about May 1973 to she was decommissioned in December. He is now an air traffic controller and lives in Kalamazoo, MI.

Man overboard!

August 21, 2005

manoverboardFireman third class William Buie goes over the Isbell’s side in 1959 (click image for larger version).

(Source: Time, Dec. 7, 1959)

CDR Charles R. Johnson (CO, 1949-50) passed away

August 10, 2005


CDR Charles “Chuck” R. Johnson passed away on 8 August, 2005, at his home in Malibu, CA. Chuck was the Isbell’s Commanding Officer from 1949-50. His son Chris passed along these comments:

“Dad was a 1938 graduate of the USNA. Served on the cruiser New Orleans before the war and was on Adm Kimmel’s staff at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attack occurred. What great stories that produced! He served as a communications officer in the South Pacific and Australia during the first part of the war, then was navigator in the cruiser Spingfield during ’44 and ’45.

“After the war he commanded Davisson then AJ Isbell before being whisked off to Washington for a Pentagon tour. After that he was an instructor at the Naval Academy, XO of cruiser Manchester, then Commander, Destroyer Squadron 25 in Pearl Harbor. His last assignment was as the commissioning Commanding Officer of the Naval Inshore Operations Training Center in Vallejo where riverine sailors were trained for their tours in Vietnam.”

USS Arnold J. Isbell Ship Commissioning

June 6, 2004

See also Captain Isbell biography and family photos.

These items were graciously provided by Zoe Montague, the niece of Capt. Isbell.

Invitation and ticket to the Commissioning Ceremony, 5 January 1946. Mrs. McKey was Captain Isbell’s sister.



The Commissioning ceremony program.



At left is the Isbell’s first Commanding Officer, Commander Carlton B. Jones. Speaking is probably Rear Admiral F.E. Haeberle. Standing far right is Captain Isbell’s eldest son Don, who attended West Point. To his right is son Charlie, who attended Annapolis and served in the Marine Corps.


Stern on view of the USS Arnold J. Isbell the day before her commissioning.


Captain Arnold J. Isbell Family Photos

June 6, 2004

See also Captain Isbell biography and ship commissioning.

These items were graciously provided by Zoe Montague, the niece of Capt. Isbell. The comments in quotes are hers.

“I was 12 when he died, but I remember a loved family hero, good looking, smart, and with a great sense of humor.”


“Arnold as a pudgy tot. He and my mother were born about 20 months apart in Oto, Iowa. I believe that at that time Arnold’s father was with the railroad. Arnold was named after my grandfather’s father, who’s last name was Arnold, and was a Civil War veteran. I don’t believe that either Arnold or my mother knew him. The family moved to Logan, Iowa, and Arnold went to school there. Tales are that he was a ‘good but wild’ kid, and I think everyone was glad when he got into the Academy.”

“Annapolis. He attended in ’17 and graduated in ’20. I believe they were hurrying people through because of WWI. Arnold is standing second from left in the first photo, and is seated top row second from right in the right photo.”



“Arnold loved flying and he was in it early. I remember that he was in charge of a group flying in Alaska. Before that he flew a lot. Before we got in the war I remember hearing that he was flying the mail to Churchill and FDR during a conference, somewhere in the Caribbean.” (Photo from the 1930s.)




“Arnold was getting an award from FDR.”

“Don, who I think was in prep school, Margarita (Arnold’s wife), Arnold, and Charlie.” (Early 40s.)


“Showing off his stripes – 1942.”


Captain Arnold J. Isbell Biography

June 6, 2004

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.)



CDR Donald D. Sheppard

February 19, 2004

don_sheppard02CDR Don Sheppard passed away on 15 February, 2004. As LCDR, Don was the Isbell’s Executive Officer from 1970-71. LT Jim Dillon was Isbell’s Weps Officer under Don and passes along these comments about him:

“Don Sheppard left Isbell while we were in Singapore (November 1971). He went on the the US Naval postgraduate School at Monterey and then became logistics officer on the staff of US Naval Forces Europe. After that he had a tour as CO of his own destroyer before he retired in about 1978. He had entered the Navy as a seaman in 1948, and 30 years was the limit at the

“Don’s book, “Riverine: A Brown-Water Sailor in the Delta” – which dealt with “Game Warden” operations up the Bassac River has become a classic that has been studied by everyone at the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Naval War College and by every nation in the world that has any pretense or hope of ever projecting naval power during the past quarter century.

“When Don was working “Game Warden” up the Bassac River he forced the medical people to submit false reports because he did not want to be removed from command as a consequence of the repeated wounds that would have mandated his removal. Later as XO of the USS ARNOLD J. ISBELL (DD-869) he inspired us all. I do not have to tell you that Don Sheppard and John Kerry were two peas in a pod in every way that was important.

“We do not have Don Sheppard or anyone like him anymore, and I fear that our nation is not capable of producing another Don Sheppard in these days of “Force Protection” considerations.

“After leaving the U.S. Navy Don became vice president of E-Rail, the U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese shipping company E-Rail served as the liason between Japanese merchant vessels and U.S. and Canadian railways.”


During his naval career Don earned the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with Combat V, Three Bronze Stars for valor, two Purple Hearts, two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, a Vietnamese Honor Medal, and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Don last made his home in Huntington Beach, CA.


(Images taken from his book jackets.)


Books by Don Sheppard:

Destroyer Skipper: A Memoir of Command at Sea
Bluewater Sailor: The Memoirs of a Destroyer Officer
Riverine: A Brown-Water Sailor in the Delta, 1967