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Ismay, Captain Arthur P. Papers 


Dates: 1965-1966 

Collection Number: COLL/458

Finding aid (Word)

Biographical Note

Captain Arthur Peter Ismay was born in Bronxville, New York, on 2 May 1927. He joined the United States Navy as an enlisted man in November 1945. In the summer of 1947 he was sent to the United States Naval Academy, graduating as an Ensign in the Class of 1951. Upon graduation, he served as the Antisubmarine Warfare Officer on board USS Philip (DD-498). In September 1953, he was reassigned to be the Executive Officer on board USS Ruddy (AM-380). In January 1955, less than four years after his graduation from the Naval Academy, and as a Lieutenant Junior Grade, he began his first command tour in USS Spoonbill (MSC-202). In January 1956, he was reassigned to be a Flag Aide to Commander, Sea Transport Service, Atlantic. In June 1956, Ismay was promoted to Lieutenant, and assigned to be the Flag Aide to Commander, Training, Pacific.

From August 1957 to May 1958, Lieutenant Ismay was the Executive Officer on board USS Otterstetter (DER-244). After this tour, Ismay was briefly inactive, before returning to active duty in February 1959 as the Assistant Plans Officer to Commander, Carrier Division Four. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in September 1960. From July 1962 to June 1964, he was the Officer-In-Charge of the presidential yacht USS Sequoia (AG-23). Just before his tour ended, he married Mary C. Carns, the daughter of Major General Carns, U.S. Army. He then attended the Armed Forces Staff College and Defense Language Institute, East Coast. In June 1965, he arrived in Vietnam as the Flag Secretary to Chief, Naval Advisory Group, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. In August, he was promoted to Commander, and in October, he was reassigned to Coastal Squadron One.

At the time of Ismay's arrival, the Squadron was just being organized, and it was called Boat Squadron One, consisting of two Swift Boats (PCFs) and only a small number of personnel. By the time his tour ended in November 1966, Ismay had 84 Swift Boats, three experimental Patrol Air Cushion vehicles and over 750 men. Coastal Squadron One played an influential role in Operation Market Time, the patrolling of Vietnam's waterways.

After his tour in command, Ismay was assigned to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, as the Assistant Special Warfare Officer. From July 1969 to June 1970, Commander Ismay studied at the University of Rochester to earn his Masters in Systems Analysis. In July 1970, he was assigned to the Staff of Commander in Chief, Pacific, as the Assistant Plans and Policy officer. He was promoted to Captain in July 1971.

Scope and Content Note

As a member of the Swift Officers Association, Ismay received word from his former subordinate, Lieutenant Jack Herriott (see the Papers of Major John A. Herriott), that Dr. Oscar P. Fitzgerald of the Naval Historical Center was interested in receiving records about the Market Time operation. This collection is the result. The Papers of Captain Arthur P. Ismay are almost entirely devoted to his service as Commander, Coastal Squadron One from 1965-1966.

The first series is correspondence to and from Captain Ismay in his capacity as the Commander, Coastal Squadron One, and also a few letters relating to this duty after he had been reassigned to Washington, D.C. The correspondence is split into "Incoming" and "Outgoing" and is sorted by date. The letters are left in the order Captain Ismay collected them, usually in inverse chronological order.

The second series is general material collected by Captain Ismay that relates to the coastal patrol craft. The first folder in the subject series is about the general characteristics of these small fifty-foot boats. The next folder contains two memoranda books that Captain Ismay took notes in during his time as Commander, Coastal Squadron One. The last folder contains message traffic that Captain Ismay collected.

Note: The NHHC Archives also maintains an oral history of Captain Ismay in its Oral History Collection.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Papers of Arthur P. Ismay, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.

Subject Headings (LCSH)

United States. Navy--History--Sources
United States. Navy--Small-boat service.
Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975.


Published: Wed Apr 24 14:10:07 EDT 2024