Ishmael came from a family that had produced many sailors, throughout the generations, including both of his parents. They were fans of the Terran novel '"Moby-Dick," which is what inspired them to give their son the name 'Ishmael.' He himself grew up to become a sailor, joining the Coast Guard at age 20, in 876. He was assigned to the Poseidon's Wrath, at about the time that one of its crewmen, Drake, was promoted to lieutenant. The two of them would become good friends over the years, and when Drake became the ship's captain in 889, he recommended Ishmael for promotion to lieutenant, himself. When the ship joined the newly established navy of Port in 901, Ishmael was promoted to commander, becoming the ship's first officer. He served with distinction during the Coming of the Order.
Shortly after the war, in early 904, the Poseidon's Wrath was destroyed in the Laser Plot, which took the lives of Admiral Drake and a skeleton crew. Ishmael and the majority of the ship's crew were on shore leave in Ship at the time. In honor of his friend and captain, when the surname law was passed later that year, Ishmael chose the name 'Neverforget.' It was intended not only in memory of Drake, but to remind him of his hatred for the Protestants, who were apparently behind the attack. When a permanent naval base was established in Tanq after the war, Ishmael was promoted to commodore.
In 912 it was learned that the Laser Plot had actually been carried out by The Cabal, in order to frame the Protestants. This revelation came near the end of the Chaos War, and it made Ishmael rethink his allegiance to the Second Order, as well as his hatred of Protestants. When Tanq seceded from the Second Order to join the United Villages of the Chaos in 913, he chose to remain in the village, retaining his position as commodore, but now as a member of the newly established Chaos Navy, under the command of a former enemy, Admiral Alphonse Teach.