Texas Originals: Chester Nimitz

February 24, 1885–February 20, 1966


The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 left the U.S. Navy stunned.  With American ships still smoldering in the water, Navy Secretary Frank Knox turned to a Texan, Chester Nimitz, to restore confidence in the Pacific Fleet.

war poster featuring Nimitz Nimitz was born in Fredericksburg in 1885.  He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1905 and then served in several command and staff positions, including the new Atlantic submarine fleet.

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, U.S. and Australian forces thwarted Japanese advances and Admiral Nimitz rolled across the Pacific, hopping from island to island including Guadalcanal, Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  Once bombing attacks began on the Japanese homeland in 1945, a U. S. victory was inevitable.

Despite his success, Nimitz was a modest man.  Journalist Robert Sherrod said Nimitz “conceived of war as something to be accomplished as efficiently and smoothly as possible, without too much fanfare.”  When the war in the Pacific was finally won, charismatic Army General Douglas MacArthur got the glory.  Nimitz never wanted it.  He said, “Being a part of the Navy is honorable and soul-satisfying work,” and that was enough for him.

After Nimitz’s death in 1966, his grandfather’s hotel in Fredericksburg became the Admiral Nimitz Museum, now part of the larger National Museum of the Pacific War.  There, in a small, landlocked Texas town, visitors can learn more about one of the U.S. Navy’s greatest commanders.




General Douglas MacArthur und Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
General Douglas MacArthur und Admiral Chester W. Nimitz


The American Experience. “Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.” Website companion to the film “McArthur.” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/macarthur/peopleevents/pandeAMEX90.html
Hastings, Max. Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45. New York: Knopf, 2008.
Levine, Alan J. The Pacific War: Japan Versus the Allies. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995.


Kirby, Rollin, 1875-1952.. A menace we must beat! "We need your metal to help fight the U-boat!". [Washington, D.C.]. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc257/. Accessed June 15, 2012.

First aired on June 23, 2012.


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