Edouard Izac

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Edouard Victor Michel Izac
Edouard Izac.png
Edouard Izac (U.S. Naval Academy photo)
Born (1891-12-18)December 18, 1891
Cresco, Iowa
Died January 18, 1990(1990-01-18) (aged 98)
Fairfax, Virginia
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1915–1921
Rank Lieutenant Commander
Battles/wars World War I
Other work U.S. Representative from California

Edouard Victor Michel Izac (Cresco, Iowa, December 18, 1891 – January 18, 1990) was a lieutenant in the United States Navy during World War I, a Representative from California and a Medal of Honor recipient.


He was born with the last name of Isaacs, the youngest of nine children, in Cresco, Howard County, Iowa, to Balthazar (born in Alsace-Lorraine) and Mathilda Geuth (born in Philadelphia, with the family heritage from Baden-Württemberg).

Izac attended the School of the Assumption, Cresco, Iowa, the high school at South St. Paul, Minnesota, and Werntz Preparatory School, Annapolis, Maryland. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1915. The day following his graduation from the academy he married Agnes Cabell (died 1975), daughter of General De Rosey Carroll Cabell.[1]

He first served on the battleship USS Florida (BB-30), then after he was promoted from ensign to lieutenant (junior grade), he signed up for the Naval Transport Service. During this time, his daughter Cabell was born in 1916. He transferred to the troop transport USS President Lincoln in July 1917. From her maiden voyage in the U.S. Navy, October 18, 1917, she made five successful trips to Europe and back.[2]

On May 31, 1918, President Lincoln sank after being struck by three torpedoes from the German submarine U–90. Izac was taken aboard the U–90 as a prisoner of war. Learning valuable information about enemy submarine movements on the trip to Germany, he tried to escape several times.[3][4] On one attempt, he was injured after jumping through the window of a moving train. He finally succeeded in escaping, with several others, from a German prison camp on the night of October 6–7.[3] He and Sub-Lieutenant Willis reached neutral Switzerland on October 13. Upon reaching London, he passed on his information to Admiral Sims; by that time, however, the war was nearly over, and Sims showed little interest.[5] Nevertheless, for his actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in November 1920.[3]

He was forced to retire in 1921 on account of wounds received while a prisoner of war in Germany. His awards included the Croce di Guerra al Merito of Italy and the Cross of Montenegro.

Izac then relocated to San Diego, California, and engaged in newspaper work and writing from 1922 to 1928. In January 1936, he was promoted to lieutenant commander on the retired list.[3]

He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1934 to the Seventy-fourth Congress, and a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1940 and 1944. Izac was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-fifth and to the four succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1937 – January 3, 1947). He lost his reelection bid to the Eightieth Congress in 1946.

Interested in lumbering, Izac raised thoroughbred cattle on a farm in Gordonsville, Virginia, before residing in Bethesda, Maryland.

Izac was a resident of Fairfax, Virginia, from 1988 until his death in 1990. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. At the time of his death, he was the last living Medal of Honor recipient from World War I. Edouard Izac was survived by five children, 19 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.[4]

Inspection of liberated concentration camps[edit]

In 1945, at the request of General Eisenhower, Izac and eleven other senators and congressmen traveled to Europe, where he inspected the recently liberated concentration camp of Buchenwald, Dachau and Nordhausen Buchenwald. Congressman Izac co-authored a report of the trip with Senator Barkeley titled "Atrocities and Other Conditions in Concentration Camps in Germany", which was published on May 15, 1945, by the 79th Congress.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Reverse of Izac's Medal of Honor. He received the "Tiffany Cross" version of the medal.

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Aboard German submarine U-90 as prisoner of war, May 21, 1918. Entered service at: Illinois. Born: December 18, 1891, Cresco, Howard County, Iowa.


When the U.S.S. President Lincoln was attacked and sunk by the German submarine U-90, on May 21, 1918, Lt. Izac was captured and held as a prisoner on board the U-90 until the return of the submarine to Germany, when he was confined in the prison camp. During his stay on the U-90 he obtained information of the movements of German submarines which was so important that he was determined to escape, with a view to making this information available to the U.S. and Allied Naval authorities. In attempting to carry out this plan, he jumped through the window of a rapidly moving train at the imminent risk of death, not only from the nature of the act itself but from the fire of the armed German soldiers who were guarding him. Having been recaptured and reconfined, Lt. Izac made a second and successful attempt to escape, breaking his way through barbed-wire fences and deliberately drawing the fire of the armed guards in the hope of permitting others to escape during the confusion. He made his way through the mountains of southwestern Germany, having only raw vegetables for food, and at the end, swam the River Rhine during the night in the immediate vicinity of German sentries.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mikaelian, p.49.
  2. ^ Mikaelian, p. 50.
  3. ^ a b c d "Lieutenant Commander Edouard V.M. Isaacs, USN (Retired), 1891-1990". Naval Historical Center. Archived from the original on August 15, 2006. Retrieved August 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Edouard Izac, Honored As a Hero, Dies at 100 [sic]". The New York Times. January 22, 1990. 
  5. ^ "Edouard Victor Izac". State Historical Society of Iowa. Retrieved August 6, 2014. [permanent dead link]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

Further reading[edit]

  • Izac, Edouard Victor Michel, The Holy Land—Then and Now, (Vantage Press, 1965).
  • Isaacs (Izac), Edouard V. Prisoner of the U-90, Houghton Mifflin, 1919).

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George Burnham
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 20th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Carl Hinshaw
Preceded by
New district
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 23rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Charles K. Fletcher