Following his successful command of the Card, Captain Isbell was on duty with the Tenth Fleet, Anti-submarine Warfare, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., for a year. He then reported to the Pacific Fleet for assignment as Commanding Officer of USS Yorktown. It was while taking passage on USS Franklin prior to assuming command that Captain Isbell lost his life when the carrier was hit by bombs from a Japanese plane off Okinawa on March 19, 1945.
Her keel was laid down on 14 March 1945 at Staten Island, New York, by the Bethlehem Steel Company. She was launched on 6 August 1945 sponsored by Mrs. Arnold J. Isbell, the widow of Captain Isbell; and commissioned on 5 January 1946 with Commander Carlton B. Jones in command. She joined the Atlantic Fleet and operated off the east coast. In January 1947, she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet and homeported at San Diego. She spent the remainder of her US Navy days homeported on the West coast.
A 1944 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he began is naval career on the USS West Virginia (BB-48), a survivor of the December 7th Japanese attack on Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor. He participated in 5 major amphibious assaults and one surface sea battle in the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa while onboard the “WeeVee.” He would subsequently command two ships, a division of four ships and a squadron of eight ships.
During 1955-56 Frank served as XO of the USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD-869). The commanding officer at the time was Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, the future Chief of Naval Operations. It was clear from Navy conversations with Frank throughout his life that Admiral Z’s mentorship was a key factor in his own pride in and dedication to the Sea Service. Retiring from the Navy in late 1960’s Frank worked in various engineering positions in the nuclear and aerospace industry and ultimately worked at Fermi Labs in Chicago, site of the world’s largest particle-accelerator. He retired again in 1982 and returned to San Diego area with his wife Evelyn.
At 1300 PST Tuesday, 22 February 2011, CDR Francis (Frank) Thomas Kleber, USN (ret) passed away in Chula Vista, California.