Admiral Chester Nimitz
1885 - 1966
Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was born Feb. 24,1885, in Fredericksburg -- a small German-style town in central Texas. It was here, on the steps of his grandfather's hotel, that young Chester Nimitz received his first impressions of life at sea. He would sit for hours and listen with fascination to his grandfather's sea stories. Later, Admiral Nimitz would say of his grandfather: "I had a wonderful white-bearded grandfather. He was Charles H. Nimitz, who settled in Fredricksburg, Texas, and built a steamboat-shaped hotel."
While out on a training exercise with a field artillery unit, a young Army officer, Lt. William M. Cruikshank, stopped at the Nimitz family hotel. Nimitz was impressed with Cruikshank's military bearing and uniform, and knew Cruikshank was not much older or different than himself. This was the life Nimitz wanted.
Nimitz was denied entry into West Point, but was offered a seat at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Nimitz left the Academy in 1905 and headed to his first assignment aboard USS OHIO, a battleship homeported in San Francisco.
As his career unfolded, Nimitz held many prominent positions within the hierarchy of the Navy chain of command. He built the submarine base at Pearl Harbor, founded one of the first Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps units, commanded the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet and was appointed commander of Battleship Division ONE. At the outbreak of World War II, he was Chief of the Bureau of Navigation.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, instructions were sent from President Franklin Roosevelt to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox: "Tell Nimitz to get the hell to Pearl and stay there until the war is won." Nimitz assumed command of the Pacific Fleet on Dec. 31, 1941. From that day on, he carried the fight to the enemy. His superb leadership and the valor of more than two million American fighting men culminated on the deck of the USS MISSOURI four years later as he signed the Japanese surrender as Commander-in-Chief of the largest naval armada ever assembled. On Dec. 15, 1945, Admiral Nimitz relieved Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King as Chief of Naval Operations.
Aside from being a great naval leader, Nimitz was also a devoted father and husband. He married the daughter of an affluent New England broker. Her name was Catherine Freeman. They were married April 9, 1913, in Wollaston, Mass. Catherine and Chester's relationships grew into a Navy family. They had four children: Catherine Vance; Chester Jr.; Anna; and Mary. Although Chester spent many years away from his family, it was his family which proved to be the stabilizing factor for him during World War II. Fleet Admiral Nimitz died Feb. 20, 1966, with his wife at his side. He never wrote his memoirs because he was afraid that if he presented his side, it might belittle the accomplishments of others.
Graduated from the
Naval Academy - Class of 1905
Ensign - 07 Jan. 1907
Lieutenant (junior grade) - 31 Jan. 1910
Lieutenant - 31 Jan. 1910
Lieutenant Commander - 29 Aug. 1916
Commander - 8 march 1918
Captain - 02 June 1927
Rear Admiral - 23 June 1938
Vice Admiral - Not held - promoted directly to Admiral
Admiral - 31 Dec. 1941
Fleet Admiral - 19 Dec. 1944
DECORATIONS and AWARDS
Service Medal with two gold stars
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Lifesaving Medal
Victory Medal with Escort Clasp
American Defense Service Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal