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NavSource Naval History
Photographic History of the United States Navy
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Arnold J. Isbell, born on 22 September 1899 in Quimby, Iowa, entered the Naval Academy on 24 July 1917 and graduated on 3 June 1920 (a year ahead of schedule due to acceleration of midshipman training during World War I) with class 21A of the Class of 1921. Isbell then served successive tours of duty in Melville (AD-2), Bath (AK-4), and the fast minelayers Ingraham (DM-9) and Burns (DM-11) before beginning flight instruction at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla., on 30 June 1923. He then briefly served as an instructor there before reporting to Observation Squadron 1, based in the minelayer Aroostook (CM-3) which was then serving as an aircraft tender, in November 1924. In March of the following year, he was transferred to the aviation unit of the battleship Tennessee (BB-43). Following two years of postgraduate work in ordnance back at the Naval Academy between the summers of 1926 and 1928, he received further flight instruction at Washington, D.C., under the supervision of the post graduate school, before going to sea with Torpedo Squadron IB in aircraft carrier Lexington (CV-2).
Isbell then served in the Aviation Ordnance Section of the Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) in Washington before reporting to Newport News, Va., on 16 September 1933 to participate in the fitting out of the Navy's first aircraft carrier to be built as such from the keel up, Ranger (CV-4). Following a brief tour of duty in that ship, he served from 6 June 1934 to 9 June 1936 in carrier Saratoga (CV-3) as gunnery officer on the staff of Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Henry V. Butler, Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force.
Isbell subsequently flew as executive officer of Patrol Squadron (VP) 7F based in aircraft tender Wright (AV-1) from 9 June 1936 to 1 June 1937 before commanding one of the five squadrons of the Aviation Training Department at NAS Pensacola, VN-4D8. While at Pensacola, he won the coveted Schiff Trophy, "emblematic of maximum safety in aircraft operation."
In the early summer of 1939, Lt. Comdr. Isbell assumed command of VP-11 (later redesignated VP-54). The German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 found VP-54 based at Norfolk, Va.; engaged in biennial maintenance of its dozen PBY-2 flying boats. Eight days later, a detachment of six planes departed Norfolk and arrived at Newport, R.I., their assigned base, that same day. The entire squadron resumed operations on Norfolk on 14 November 1939, relieving VP-53 on the Middle Atlantic Patrol.
During one of the flights his squadron conducted in the initial selection and survey of Army and Navy base sites in Newfoundland in the autumn of 1940, sites obtained in the "destroyers-for-bases" deal of the summer before, Isbell found himself in the path of a hurricane. In an attempt to evade the storm, Isbell skillfully maneuvered his aircraft in the murk until exceptionally strong headwinds forced him to make an emergency night landing on Prince Edward Island. Isbell took off before daybreak, despite fog and violent winds, and reached his destination without mishap. After completing his inspection over uninhabited regions and seacoast areas, Isbell returned to Newfoundland to carry out an aerial survey of Argentia, a place soon to become famous as the site of the "Atlantic Charter" conference. Isbell's expert airmanship and tenacious devotion to completing his mission resulted in his receiving the Air Medal.
Relieved of command of VP-54 on 15 April 1941, Isbell then served successive tours of duty in a staff capacity, first for Commander, Patrol Wing, Support Force (16 April-2 October 1941) as that command's planes escorted North Atlantic convoys; then as chief of staff and aide for Rear Admirals Ernest D. McWhorter and Alva D. Bernhard, Commander, Patrol Wings, Atlantic Fleet (3 October 1941-11 June 1942), before assuming command of NAS, Sitka, Alaska, on 5 June 1942. Promoted to captain during his time in the Aleutians, Isbell then served briefly in BuOrd before assuming command of the escort carrier Card (CVE-11) on 17 April 1943.
For the next year, Card ranged the essential lifeline across the Atlantic to North Africa, earning together with her escorting destroyers, a Presidential Unit Citation under the resourceful "Buster" Isbell, who believed firmly in the potential of the CVE, maintaining that such a ship, together with her escorts, "could most effectively whip the submarine menace, as an independent offensive group rather than as a mere tag, along protector of a single convoy." Isbell used the year he commanded Card wisely to vindicate his belief. As antisubmarine task group commander between 27 July and 9 November 1943, Isbell developed his escort carrier-destroyer unit into a powerful combat force, refining tactics to meet the operational demands imposed by a wily and tenacious foe and wresting the initiative from his hands. Card sought out the enemy undersea craft with relentless determination m a vigorous offensive and struck with a devastating coordinated action that destroyed eight U-boats between 7 August and 31 October 1943.
Detached from Card on 9 March 1944, Isbell-who had been awarded a Legion of Merit for his important work in Card, took his intimate knowledge of combatting U-boats to Washington, where he served in the 10th Fleet, a shipless "fleet" set up to research and develop tactics for antisubmarine warfare. Following this tour of shore duty, which lasted into 1945, Isbell was slated to receive command of a fast carrier. On 26 February 1945, he was ordered to the Pacific for temporary duty in Franklin (CV-13). On 13 March 1945, further orders directed him to relieve Captain Thomas S. Combs as commanding officer of Yorktown (CV-10). However, Captain Isbell perished when a Japanese plane scored two bomb hits that touched off a conflagration in Franklin, the carrier in which he was embarked as a passenger, off Kyushu on 19 March 1945.
|379k||Undated, location unknown. Note Essex class carirer on horizon.||Dave Wright|
|60k||Undated, location unknown.||Tom Crew|
|87k||Undated postcard Copyright © Marine Photos, San Diego, CA.||Mike Smolinski|
|110k||Undated, location unknown.||Robert M. Cieri|
|148k||Undated, off Point Loma.||Richard Miller BMCS USNR RET.|
|89k||Undated, coming alongside the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63).||Richard Miller BMCS USNR RET.|
|243k||The Keel Laying at Staten Island, NY on March 14 1945.||Jack W. Miller|
|221k||The Christening at Staten Island, NY on August 6 1945.||Jack W. Miller|
|127k||February 13 1946, location unknown.||Ed Zajkowski|
|199k||USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) off Mare Island on September 26, 1950. Photo from the collection of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.||Darryl Baker|
|125k||USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) off Mare Island on September 26, 1950.||Tracy White|
|142k||Forward plan view of USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) at Mare Island on 28 Sep 1950. She was in overhaul at the yard from 31 July to 6 Oct 1950. USS Leonard F. Mason (DD 852) is outboard of USS Stickell (DD 889) aft of Isbell.||Darryl Baker/Tracy White|
|110k||Amidships looking aft plan view of USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) at Mare Island on 28 Sep 1950. USS Leonard F. Mason (DD 852) is outboard of USS Stickell (DD 889) aft of Isbell.||Darryl Baker|
|145k||Bow view USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) at Mare Island during her overhaul in April 1954. She was in overhaul at the yard from 16 April to 15 July 1954.||Darryl Baker|
|111k||Port side view USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) at Mare Island during her overhaul in April 1954. There are three other destroyers in the background. USS Ozbourn (DD 846) is across the pier from Isbell. Next in line is USS Frank Knox and then USS Hollister (DD 788).||Darryl Baker|
|141k||USS Isbell (DD-869), USS Ozbourn (DD-846), USS Frank Knox (DD-742) in Wellington, New Zealand in 1956.||Bob Matthews|
|47k||Arnold J.Isbell (DD-869) in the South China Sea, December 17 1956, photo by USS Hollister's Chief Corpsman.||Jack Wm. Miller, EMC, USN (Ret.)|
|118k||CDR. Ralph L. Porter assumed command of the USS Arnold J. Isbell on July 13, 1957 relieving CDR. Elmo R. Zumwalt (1955-1957).||Bill Gonyo|
|65k||Homeport of Long Beach Ca. prior to Westpac and Viet Nam deployment July 1965||Alton Anderson SN ASROC|
|64k||Homeport of Long Beach Ca. prior to Westpac and Viet Nam deployment July 1965||Alton Anderson SN ASROC|
|82k||Entering Sydney Harbor, 1970||William Strawbridge ETR2|
|17k||June, 1973 as the Isbell came into Portland Oregon for the Rose Festival. The photo was taken by my father, Philip Davis||Dan Davis OS2|
|44k||Ship's patch.||Mike Smolinski|
|100k-120k||Uniform Ship's name shoulder patch.||Al Grazevich|
|100k-112k||Ship's Zippo.||Tommy Trampp|
|On Greek Service
|166k||At Genoa on October 29 1984.||Carlo Martinelli|
|48k||On exercises in the Aegean Sea, July 8, 1987.||CŁneyt Demir|
|108k||At Genoa, Italy on May 14 1992.||Carlo Martinelli|
|121k||At Genoa, Italy on May 14 1992.||Carlo Martinelli|
|140k||At Genoa, Italy on June 10 1992.||Carlo Martinelli|
|177k||At Genoa, Italy on June 13 1992.||Carlo Martinelli|
|168k||At Genoa, Italy on June 13 1992.||Carlo Martinelli|
|110k||In Souda Bay, Crete summer 1995. From L to R: USS Corry (DD-817), USS Aulick (DD-569), USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD-869) and USS Ingraham (DD-694) waiting to be scrapped.||Anthony J. Vrailas|
CDR Carlton Benton Jones Jan 5 1946 - Aug 14 1947 (Later RADM) CDR Edward Brown Schutt Aug 14 1947 - Apr 4 1949 CDR Charles Roland Johnson Apr 4 1949 - Jul 10 1950 CDR Fletcher Hale Jr. Jul 10 1950 - Nov 10 1951 CDR Francis John Fitzpatrick Nov 10 1951 - Jul 31 1953 (Later RADM) CDR William Gabriel Holly Jul 31 1953 - Sep 10 1955 CDR Elmo Russell (Bud) Zumwalt Jr. Sep 10 1955 - Jul 13 1957 (Later ADM & CNO) CDR Ralph Lane Porter Jul 13 1957 - Sep 14 1958 CDR Harold Roy Tall Jun 3 1959 - Aug 5 1961 LCDR Harvey James Johnson Aug 5 1961 - Jul 24 1962 CDR James Keith Athow Jul 24 1962 - Dec 31 1963 CDR Jack Eugene Guentz Dec 31 1963 - Aug 18 1965 CDR Mark Bernard Lechleiter Jr. Aug 18 1965 - Jul 10 1967 CDR George Dale Walker Jul 10 1967 - Jun 5 1969 CDR Robert Bernard Hoffman Jun 5 1969 - Oct 16 1970 CDR Roland James Carr Oct 16 1970 - Feb 19 1972 LCDR Robert Leon Warren Feb 19 1972 - Sep 1972 CDR Lee Oran Smith Sep 1972 - Dec 4 1973
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This page was created by Fred Willishaw (ex ARG-4, AS-11 & DD-692) and is maintained by David L. Wright|