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Rear Admiral Isaac Campbell Kidd

  • Unit: Pacific Fleet, Battleship Division I
  • Service Number: O-005715
  • Date of Birth: March 26, 1884
  • Entered the Military: November 30, 1905
  • Date of Death: December 7, 1941
  • Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Place of Death: Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
  • Award(s): Medal of Honor, Purple Heart
  • Cemetery: Tablet of Missing. Honolulu Memorial, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawai’i
Contributed by Jacob Gibson
Mentored by Mr. Frank O'Grady
Saint Edward High School

Early Life

On March 26, 1884, Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd was born in Cleveland, Ohio, into a wealthy family. His mother, Jemima Campbell, was the heir to the Campbell Block in the Flats area of Cleveland. The Campbell block was a collection of buildings that served as apartments and other small shops and services. These buildings do not stand today as they were demolished in December 1975. 

 Kidd lived on the west side and attended Cleveland Public Schools. He graduated from West High School in 1902. Former Ohio Senator Marcus Hanna recommended him for an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

During his time at the U.S. Naval Academy, Kidd excelled at both football and boxing. He earned the title of heavyweight boxing champion at his college. He graduated in 1906. 

 Kidd went on to marry Inez N. Gillmore on April 29, 1911. He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy at this time.


War Effort 

Cleveland embraced the war effort and did everything possible to help their country achieve victory. During the war, Cleveland sent about 160,000 troops to serve in World War II. Approximately 4,000 Clevelanders gave their lives serving their country.

The city practiced blackout drills in the case of air raids. Those living in the city held contests to see who had the best victory garden (home or community gardens set up to alleviate pressure on the public food supply needed for the war effort). The citizens of Cleveland also established a war service center at Public Square in downtown that had recruiting offices, war bond and stamp sellers, and agencies like the USO, American Red Cross, and the War Housing Service. Playhouse Square, Cleveland’s theatre district, was converted into a Stage Door Canteen, an entertainment venue for servicemembers. 

 War Time Economy 

By the end of the war, Clevelanders purchased $2.5 billion dollars worth of war bonds. Cleveland ranked fifth overall in the nation for producing war time goods.

What is known to Clevelanders today as the IX Center (International Exposition Center) served as an airplane factory during World War II and was the site for the construction of the B-29 bombers. There were also many ship building and munitions factories in the Greater Cleveland area.

When World War II finally ended, Cleveland put on a Victory Parade that lasted for more than three hours and was viewed by 300,000 people from all over the greater Cleveland area.

Military Experience

Prior to 1917 and World War I

 After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Kidd served on the USS Columbia during the Panama Expedition of 1906. Between 1907 and 1909, by order of President Theodore Roosevelt, Kidd served as a part of the Great White Fleet, a U.S. Navy fleet that sailed around the world to show the power of America’s Navy. He also served on the USS New Jersey, USS North Dakota, USS Pittsburgh, and the USS California

 Kidd taught at the U.S. Naval Academy from 1916 to 1917. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Kidd was stationed on the USS New Mexico but did not see any active combat.

Between the World Wars
After World War I, Kidd served as a captain at the Port of Cristobal in the Panama Canal Zone. Later he was stationed on the USS Arizona

After attending the U.S. Naval War College he was quickly promoted to Rear Admiral in February 1940. 

 The Attack on Pearl Harbor 

At the time of the first wave on the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941 at approximately 7:53 a.m., Rear Admiral Kidd left his quarters to take up his command on the bridge of the Arizona.

Seaman First Class Jim Foster was one of the last two people on the Arizona to see Rear Admiral Kidd alive. Foster recounts that Kidd, running from his cabin in full dress uniform, saw Foster alone at his gun and stopped only to pat Foster on the shoulder and say, “Man your battle station, son,” before he ran for the bridge.

Soon afterward, Rear Admiral Kidd was killed when a Japanese bomb fell through the deck of the ship and ignited the ship’s entire ammunition magazine below deck. The resulting explosion killed 1,177 sailors on the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941 – almost half of the U.S. military deaths at Pearl Harbor that day. Kidd’s body was never recovered. His Naval Academy ring was welded to the bulkhead behind where he was standing as a result of the extreme blast and heat of the explosion.

 Rear Admiral Kidd was the highest ranking officer to die the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor.


Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd was born in Cleveland, Ohio near the placid waters of Lake Erie and died on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 near the turbulent waters of the Pacific Ocean. Kidd entered the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1906. He dedicated his life to the Navy with a career that would span over 35 years.

 His son and grandson would follow in his footsteps, also serving as flag officers in the Navy. Rear Admiral Kidd’s son, Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, Jr., served in the U.S. Navy from 1941 to 1978, eventually serving as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

Rear Admiral Kidd was the highest-ranking officer to die at Pearl Harbor. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, a Purple Heart, one bronze battle star for Pearl Harbor, and the World War II Victory Medal. 

In 2007, an Ohio Historical Marker, located outside the Naval Reserve Center near the lakefront in downtown Cleveland, was dedicated to Rear Admiral Kidd.

Since his death, two destroyers have been dedicated to him: The USS Kidd (DDG-100) is still in active service and the USS Kidd (DD-661) currently serves as a museum-ship in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and has been designated as a national historic landmark.

Rear Admiral Kidd, thank you for your noble service and contribution to our country.


The Sacrifice for FreedomⓇ: World War II in the Pacific Student and Teacher Institute involved the opportunity to study the Second World War, particularly the Pacific Theatre of Operations, using locations around Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. The three most powerful locations for my team were the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the bridge of the USS Missouri, and the USS Arizona Memorial.

At the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, it was humbling to see the number of men who gave their lives for the United States during the Second World War, just in the Pacific campaign. It was also truly moving to be able to give a eulogy for Rear Admiral Kidd below his name on the Tablets of the Missing.

 Being able to study an incredible American for seven months and then being able to talk about his life was a truly life changing experience.

After the entire group of students and teachers spent the night on the USS Missouri, the staff took my teacher and me to the bridge of the ship. This was an incredible experience for me because it is the same location that Rear Admiral Kidd would have been on the USS Arizona when he was killed. I was in total awe because the view I had of Pearl Harbor would have been similar to his on December 7, 1941.

Our tour of the USS Arizona Memorial changed my life. While on a launch boat tour around Ford Island and Pearl Harbor, my teacher and I were allowed to spread orchid petals over the sunken USS Arizona, the place where my silent hero, Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd, died on December 7, 1941. This was an emotional event for me and it is one that I will never forget.

The entire experience of being able to travel to Honolulu and Pearl Harbor will be one that I will never forget. I hope to bring a similar project back to my school so that my generation and the generations to follow will never forget the sacrifices that the men who died in war made for our freedom.


Primary Sources

Captain Isaac C. Kidd, USN. Photograph. 1931. Naval History and Heritage Command (NH 50176).

Captain Isaac C, Kidd, USN, Commanding Officer, USS Arizona (BB-39). Photograph. 1939. Naval History and Heritage Command (NH 97385).

Isaac C. Kidd, Individual Deceased Personnel File, Department of the Navy.

Isaac C. Kidd, Marriage Record, Cuyahoga County Archive, 1911. Digital Images.

Isaac C. Kidd, Select Military Registers, 1862-1985. Digital Images.

Isaac C. Kidd, US City Directories, 1822-1995. Digital Images.

Senior Marine Corps and Navy officers. Photograph. Naval History and Heritage Command (NH 58250).

USS North Dakota. 1910 U.S. Census. Digital Images.

Secondary Sources

Albrecht, Brian, and James Banks. Cleveland in World War II. Charleston: The History Press, 2015.

“DDG 100 To Honor Pearl Harbor Hero Rear Adm. Isaac C. Kidd.” Department of the Navy. Last modified March 23, 2004. Accessed August 23, 2019.

Dubelko, Jim. “Admiral Kidd Birthplace.” Cleveland Historical. Last modified August 21, 2019. Accessed August 23, 2019.

Ibid. “Admiral Kidd’s Neighborhood.” Cleveland Historical. Last modified August 21, 2019. Accessed August 23, 2019.

Ibid. “The Campbell Block.” Cleveland Historical. Last modified October 13, 2017. Accessed August 23, 2019.

Heiter, Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, USN (1884-1941). Painting. 1964. Naval History and Heritage Command (NH 48579-KN).

“Isaac C. Kidd.” American Battle Monuments Commission. Accessed August 23, 2019.

“KIDD, ISAAC CAMPBELL.” Case Western Reserve University. Accessed August 23, 2019.

“Rear Admiral, USN, (1884-1941).” Naval History and Heritage Command. Accessed August 23, 2019.

“USS Kidd (DDG 100).” U.S. Navy. Accessed August 23, 2019.