Isaac Campbell Kidd, Sr.

December 5, 2000

When the smoke had cleared and the skies had quieted over the wreck of the U.S.S. Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941, all that remained of its one-time commander was his Naval Academy ring, fused to a pole. R/Adm. Isaac Campbell Kidd, Sr., was the highest-ranking servicemember killed on "the day that will live in infamy," and the first officer killed in action in the Pacific theater.

Kidd earned his gold class ring on his Annapolis graduation day in 1906. Promoted to ensign in 1908, he embarked on a distinguished career in his chosen service. After participating in the 1907-9 "Great White Fleet" cruise on the U.S.S. New Jersey (BB-16), he continued serving on battleships, at the time the most important enforcers of maritime peace. Before the First World War, Kidd served as an aide and was an instructor at the Naval Academy (1916-17). During the war, he was stationed on the U.S.S. New Mexico (BB-40).

Further staff and battleship assignments followed, and Kidd became the Captain of the Port for the Panama Canal Zone in 1927. Soon after he was promoted to the rank of captain and in 1935 was named Commander Destroyer Squadron ONE, Scouting Force. He attended the Naval War College and served on its staff before being given command of the Arizona.

By 1941 Kidd had been promoted to Rear Admiral and was assigned as Commander Battleship Division ONE and Chief of Staff to Commander, Battleships, Battle Force. Kidd, known to his family and friends as "Cap" may have been engaging in his habitual daily exercise at 7:55 a.m. that fateful Sunday-most of the sailors stationed on Oahu, "America's Gibraltar," were either still asleep or at breakfast. However, once the ship's air raid alarm went off, he "immediately went to the bridge and as Commander Battleship Division ONE, courageously discharged his duties as Senior Officer Present Afloat. . ."

No one will ever know exactly what R/Adm. Kidd was doing or thinking when his ship sustained the first of what would be eight bomb hits. The explosion that ripped through the forward part of the Arizona ". . .resulted in the loss of his life." Those words and the ones above are from R/Adm. Kidd's posthumously awarded Medal of Honor citation.

by Bethanne Kelly Patrick
Military.com Columnist
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