Chester W. Nimitz

Sailor / World War II Figure

Born: 24 February 1885
Birthplace: Fredericksburg, Texas
Best known as: Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in World War II
United States Admiral Chester William Nimitz was the commander of the Pacific Fleet during World War II, the man who directed the U.S. victories at Midway, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Nimitz grew up in Texas, raised by his widowed mother and grandfather. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1905 and was promoted to ensign by 1907. Nimitz's first command was the destroyer Decatur, but it ran aground in 1908; he was reprimanded and assigned to submarine duty. He spent the next three decades working his way up in the navy, commanding submarines and surface ships, serving in staff positions and becoming an expert on diesel engines. Following the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt named Nimitz to relieve Admiral Husband E. Kimmel as commander of the Pacific Fleet. An experienced and well-liked leader, Nimitz was also an effective military strategist who directed U.S. forces as they closed in on Japan, beginning in May and June of 1942 with the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. Nimitz was promoted to the newly-created rank of fleet admiral in 1944 and became the naval equivalent to the army's General Dwight D. Eisenhower. After the war Nimitz oversaw the demobilization of the navy, served as a United Nations goodwill ambassador and, later, co-authored Sea Power, A Naval History (1960). He and his wife settled in the San Francisco area, where Nimitz was active in the community and a regent at the University of California.
Extra credit: It was on Nimitz's flagship, the U.S.S. Missouri that the Japanese surrendered on 2 September 1945... Nimitz ordered the ambush that killed his Japanese counterpart, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto... In 1972 the U.S.S. Nimitz was launched, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the world's largest warship.

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