Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Isaac C. Kidd, the commander of USS Arizona killed Dec. 7, 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Isaac Campbell Kidd was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in March 1884. He was born into a wealthy family; his mother was a real estate heiress. Kidd graduated high school in 1902 and entered the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he displayed talent as a boxer and football player. At the academy, his classmates jokingly called him “Cap,” after notorious pirate captain William Kidd.
After graduating from the academy, Kidd served aboard a number of ships, including USS Columbia, USS New Jersey, USS North Dakota, USS Pittsburgh and USS California. In 1906, Kidd took part in the Panama Expedition. From 1907-1909, he served with the Great White Fleet, which sailed around the world to showcase the power of the American Navy. From 1916-1917, he was an instructor at the Naval Academy. During World War I, Kidd served aboard USS New Mexico but did not see combat.
In the years following World War I, Kidd progressed within the ranks of the Navy. He served as executive officer aboard the battleship Utah, commanded USS Vega, promoted to captain and served for several years at the Bureau of Navigation in Washington, D.C. In the 1930s, Kidd attended the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and served on the college staff. In 1938, he assumed command of USS Arizona; in 1940, he promoted to the rank of rear admiral.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese forces launched a surprise aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. At the time of the attack, Kidd was seen rushing from his cabin toward his station on the bridge of USS Arizona. Soon afterward, a Japanese bomb punctured the ship’s deck and ignited its entire ammunition magazine. The resulting explosion destroyed USS Arizona and killed 1,177 sailors, including Kidd. The fatalities aboard the ship accounted for nearly half of all U.S. military deaths at Pearl Harbor.
The next day, calling Dec. 7 “a date which will live in infamy,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech asking Congress to authorize a declaration of war against Japan, marking the entry of the U.S. into World War II.
A few days after the attack, Navy divers swam out to investigate the wreckage of USS Arizona. Divers found a Naval Academy ring inscribed with Kidd’s name fused to a bulkhead near where he had been standing. The extreme heat of the explosion had welded it to the steel hull of the ship, forcing the divers to remove it with a chisel.
Kidd was the highest-ranking officer killed at Pearl Harbor, the first flag officer to die in World War II and the first Navy flag officer in American history to die from a foreign enemy attack. The Navy never recovered his body. For his actions during the battle, he posthumously received a Medal of Honor.
We honor his service.
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Writer: Stephen Hill
Editors: Julia Pack, Wilson S. Sainvil
Researcher: Giacomo Ferrari
Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley