Hometown Hero Finally Laid to Rest

by | Mar 17, 2024

Above: Capt. Robert G. Isibel, U.S.A.F. Submitted photo

The email arrived in my inbox on Saturday, from Hub Brennan:

One of our own and native son Captain Robert Grant Isibel, USAF was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday.

Born and raised in East Greenwich, Bob lived his life with dignity and grace. He served our country with courage, honor and distinction as a decorated combat US Air Force pilot flying the F4 Phantom during the conflict in Vietnam.

Upon retirement from active duty, Bob served as supervisor at the Federal Aviation Agency for over 30 years. Like many of us, Bob was proud of his hometown.

And we are proud of him.

Hub had added the two photos of a young “Bobby” Isibel and a photo from Arlington National Cemetery included here.

I wanted to know more. Bob, it turned out, had died July 19, 2022. It had taken until now for the cemetery to be able to schedule the internment of his ashes. There had been no obituary.

Bob’s brother David Isibel shared more information. Bob, born April 20, 1948, was a member of the EGHS Class of 1966, the middle of the three Isibel boys born to Stanford and Gladys Isibel, who lived on Mawney Street. Bob went on to graduate from Roger Williams College then joined the U.S. Air Force. He completed a one-year combat tour of duty in Vietnam, and was assigned to the 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron, stationed at Ubon, Royal Thai AIr Force Base.

Bob Isibel beside his plane. Submitted photo

After he was released from combat duty, Bob was assigned to fly F-4 aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He and his squadron participated in the intense Red Flag competition at Nellie Air Force Base in Nevada and other competitions around the country.

“Bob was involved in a stressful environment but he loved it with a passion and did a great job,” one of the men of his squadron shared with the family. “He was highly respected by his colleagues and commanders.”

After he retired from the Air Force, Bob settled in Washington, D.C. and went to work at the Federal Aviation Administration for more than 30 years, retiring as a supervisor. One of his duties was to work on presidential flight details. He continued to fly small airplanes for pleasure, and would take family members on day trips to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard when he was home for a visit.

Bob never married and would volunteer to work holidays and weekends for married colleagues so they could be home with their families. He was that type of person, according to family members.

David recalled one Christmas Eve when Bob was home, they were Christmas shopping and as they walked up to the cashier to pay, they came upon a young woman with five children who was in tears because she did not have enough money to pay for their Christmas gifts.

“Without hesitation, Bob walked to the counter, took out his wallet and paid her entire bill, then handed her a $100 bill and wished her a Merry Christmas,” David said. “That was the type of guy that he was.”

Other than the visits home, Bob never did return to Rhode Island, even with the urging of family members as he got older.

Seven from East Greenwich made the trip to Arlington (including Hub) for the internment. It was “very moving and sad, but an inspiring experience,” said David. “Finally after almost two years – that was the place he wanted and deserved to be.”

Bob is survived by his brothers, David Isibel of East Greenwich, and Stanford Isibel of Dummer, N.H., his nephew, Eric Isibel, and niece, Katherine Isibel Bradshaw (husband Mark), and two great nephews, Mark and Jameson Bradshaw.

Godspeed, Capt. Robert Grant Isibel, USAF

Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Hub Brennen 

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Marilyn Kiesel
Marilyn Kiesel
March 18, 2024 6:55 am

What a touching and well deserved article. What a special man! Thanks for sharing!

Bruce Mastracchio
Bruce Mastracchio
March 18, 2024 7:01 am

So sorry to hear about this on all levels. I babysat the Isibel boys and they were great kids. Stan and Gladys did a great job. He is at rest in the spot where he belongs. May God rest his soul.

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson
March 18, 2024 10:34 am

Well done, Captain.

Ray Riccio
Ray Riccio
March 18, 2024 1:41 pm

Bivouac of the Dead
The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat, the soldier’s last tattoo; No more on Life’s parade shall meet, that brave and fallen few. On Fame’s eternal camping-ground, their silent tents are spread, And Glory guards, with solemn round, the bivouac of the dead.
Theodore O’Hara 

Words which would not be uttered to those for decades:
Welcome Home, Thank you for your Service. 
To the Isibel Family, my condolences. 

Donna Rice
Donna Rice
March 18, 2024 4:45 pm

Isibel Family:
So sorry to learn of David’s passing. May he Rest in Peace.

Donna Wilson Rice

Donna Rice
Donna Rice
March 18, 2024 4:46 pm

A beautiful tribute to a townie.
Donna Wilson Rice


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