By National Museum of American Jewish Military History

Solomon Isquith and Pearl Harbor

Solomon Isquith was a hero of the USS Utah when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor

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U.S. Naval Academy Diploma for Solomon Isquith, From the collection of: National Museum of American Jewish Military History
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Isquith wanted to attend the Naval Academy. But at 5'4" tall, he was too short at his initial exam. Family legend says he tied flatirons to his ankles and stretched his legs just long enough to meet the height requirement on a second exam. He graduated in 1920.

Navy DinnerNational Museum of American Jewish Military History

In June 1940, Solomon Isquith was assigned to the USS Utah as Engineer Officer based in Pearl Harbor.

Pig Roast, From the collection of: National Museum of American Jewish Military History
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Pre-Pearl Harbor service in Hawaii

LIFE Photo Collection

On December 7, 1941, Solomon Isquith was in command of the USS Utah. Though it was no longer an operational battleship, the Japanese hit the Utah with a barrage of torpedoes. It was one of the first ships to be sunk.

Isquith showing port hole, From the collection of: National Museum of American Jewish Military History
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As the Utah was capsizing, men were trapped inside. LCDR Isquith had to pull himself through a port hole to survive. After, he secured a torch and cut through the hull to free trapped men. 461 survived and 64 perished.

CDR Solomon Isquith Receives Purple Heart (1944-02-04)National Museum of American Jewish Military History

While attempting to save crew members, Isquith was wounded aboard the Utah by bullets from strafing Japanese planes. He received the Purple Heart.

Citation for Navy Cross, From the collection of: National Museum of American Jewish Military History
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Isquith was awarded the Navy Cross, the military's second-highest decoration, for his actions and "cool and efficient manner" that day.

Navy Cross Recipients (1942-04-08)National Museum of American Jewish Military History

Isquith with other officers who had received the Navy Cross for actions at Pearl Harbor.

USS Oklahoma Salvage (1943-04-06)National Museum of American Jewish Military History

After the attack, Isquith stayed at Pearl Harbor and worked on salvage operations including the salvage of the USS Oklahoma.

CDR Isquith on Oklahoma, From the collection of: National Museum of American Jewish Military History
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USS Oklahoma Envelope, From the collection of: National Museum of American Jewish Military History
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After salvaging the Oklahoma, CDR Isquith commanded the USS Noble in the Pacific.

Rear Admiral Solomon Isquith, From the collection of: National Museum of American Jewish Military History
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Solomon Isquith retired from the Navy as a rear admiral in 1947.

Solomon Isquith and David Ben-Gurion (1949)National Museum of American Jewish Military History

After retirement from the Navy, Isquith was active with the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. and an advocate for Israel.

USS Utah hulkNational Museum of American Jewish Military History

A memorial was placed by the wreck of the Utah in memory of those who perished at Pearl Harbor.

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