Wreath-laying ceremony held for sailor killed at Pearl Harbor

Luther James Isom was only 20 when he was killed in the attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

Posted: Dec 6, 2020 10:36 PM
Updated: Dec 6, 2020 11:28 PM

Monday marks 79 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. On that day, Luther Isom of Huntsville, 20, was killed. He was Madison County’s first casualty of World War II.

On Sunday, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at Maple Hill Cemetery for Isom, just shy of the anniversary of his passing.

Known as “Luke” to family and friends, he served aboard the USS Arizona and was promoted twice, first to Seaman Second Class and later to Seaman First Class.

While serving, he often wrote home to family and friends. The letters he wrote to his mother are still in the family’s possession.

Sunday, Isom’s nephew, Mark Ivey, said it’s still difficult to read them.

“Because they’re so emotional to read them because he spoke personally to his mother,” Ivey said. “It just seems too real each time you look at it ... the memories start flooding in.”

Like most of Isom’s living relatives, Ivey never had the chance to meet the man he grew up hearing stories about. He said events like Sunday’s help keep his memory alive.

“He’s just alive in the memories and what we share and we try to keep active to try not to forget,” Ivey said. “These kind of activities, mean so much, I think, to keep those thoughts alive for these kinds of sacrifices and these kinds of individuals are not forgotten.”

Isom’s body was one of only 107 recovered from the Arizona. He was originally laid to rest in Honolulu before he was eventually reinterred at Maple Hill Cemetery in 1947 as the first person to be buried in the military section.

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