Kelso “Sonny” James Isom, was born in the Virgin Islands on November 11, 1924, the first son of the late Kelso Isom and Marie (Querard) Isom. He grew up in Chelsea and Charlestown with three brothers and five sisters after his father, a Navy pharmacist mate, was relocated from Haiti and the Virgin Islands to the Chelsea Naval Hospital in 1934. As a boy, he was active in St. John’s Episcopal Church hanging hymn numbers, singing in the choir and helping out at the fair. He attended Charlestown schools including Charlestown High School and in 1942 left high school at 17 years old to enlist in the Navy following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He served his country with courage, honor and distinction during both World War II and the Korean War. During World War II, his service included North Africa, Philippines, Manus Island (Bismarck Archipelago), Okinawa Island (Ryukyu Islands), Bora Bora and the Pacific Theater. He participated in Operation Torch in North Africa.
He was honored throughout his career receiving the Combat Action Ribbon with two Gold Stars, the Navy Good Conduct Medal with Four Stars, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal with One Bronze Star, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the World War II Occupation Medal - Navy, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the ROK Korean War Service Medal, the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, the Philippine Liberation Medal with One Bronze Star, the Philippine Independence Medal and the United Nations Korean Service Medal.
He made the Navy his career, achieving, first, the rank of Electrician’s Mate First Class and was honorably discharged on January 1, 1946. He returned to the Navy this time attaining the rank of USN Sr. Chief, and again receiving an honorable discharge in December, 1950. As he left his ship for the last time, the ship’s Captain declared “it’s a sad day for the Navy when men like Isom leave”.
He served on several ships and naval bases including the USS Daniel A. Joy, the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport RI and the USS Massachusetts, where he was one of its first crew members. His name is recognized on board this now highly decorated battleship residing permanently in Battleship Cove, a maritime museum and war memorial. He completed his long career as a civilian still serving his country at Naval Station Norfolk.
Sonny loved history, politics, trivia and scrabble. It was his joy to be with his family and you could often hear his boisterous voice during spirited political or historical discussions at the holiday dinner table.
Sonny is the beloved brother of Marie Hubbard, Marion Wood, John Isom, Bob Isom, Christine Musker and the late Laura Crawley, Carl Isom and Ruth Sherwood. He is the uncle to many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and great-grand nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend Sonny’s funeral service on Friday, October 21, 2016 at 10:00 a.m., to be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 27 Devens Street, Charlestown Massachusetts. Visiting hours are on Friday, October 21, 2016 starting at 8:30 a.m., Carr Funeral Home, 220 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown Massachusetts and he will be laid to rest, with military honors, at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts at 1:15 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, kindly make a donation in Sonny’s name to the St John’s Church Window Restoration Fund, c/o St. John’s Church, 27 Devens Street, Charlestown, MA 02129.