Rear Admiral Solomon Silas Isquith:
WW I and WW II Veteran and a
Recipient of the Navy Cross
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Rear Admiral Solomon Silas Isquith was a veteran of World War I and World War II, who received the Navy Cross for bravery during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
Solomon Silas Isquith was born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 25, 1896. He was the second of seven children of Pearl and Abraham Iskovitz. Isquith was a short person and in his first attempt, he failed to meet the physical height requirement required by the Naval Academy. That night he slept with flat iron weights tied to his dangling feet over the bed. The next morning, he went to the recruiting office to be physically examined and he was accepted. He was smart enough to know that during the day a person shrinks a little because of gravity.
He went to the Annapolis Navy Academy and became a member of the Class of 1920. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the Navy graduated the Class of 1920 to 1919, a year earlier. Isquith was commissioned as an ensign in 1919.
During World War I, he served in the Far East and European areas on river gunboats, destroyers, cruisers and battleships.
When World War II started, Isquith was a Lt. Commander, in the Pacific Fleet, commanding the old battleship, U.S.S. Utah. This ship was ported at Pearl Harbor and it was used by the Army Air Force for dummy runs for diving practice. The Japanese thought that the U.S.S. Utah was an aircraft carrier and when they attacked Pearl Harbor, this was the first ship bombed and sank.
Isquith managed to escape through a porthole. He immediately organized the other men in the water from other ships. They started using torches to save the lives of the sailors trapped in the Utah and other sinking ships. He received the Navy Cross for his heroism and a Purple Heart.
Isquith was promoted to the rank of Commander and he was placed in charge of salvage operations at Pearl Harbor. His engineering experience helped him raise many sunken warships. He received many decorations for his successful efforts.
Isquith was promoted to Captain and he went on to command several ships in the Pacific, including the troopship U.S.S. Noble. He was then promoted to the flag rank of Commodore. He was transferred to command the Brooklyn Naval Ship Yard and promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral. After thirty years of service in the Navy in the service, he retired. During his Naval career, he completed law school and he was responsible for making many changes in the Navy’s Manual for Court Martial.
Rear Admiral Isquith was a major fund raiser for War Bonds and he was an active spokesman for the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., the oldest veterans organization in the country.
Rear Admiral Solomon Silas Isquith died on April 24, 1969 and was buried with full military honors in the Arlington National Cemetery.
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