Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, United States Navy, b. February 24, 1885, d. February 20, 1966.

Most noted for his command of the United States Navy's Pacific Fleet in World War II, historians frequently place Nimitz on the same footing with Douglas MacArthur when talk of reasons for the Allied victory in the Pacific arises during poker games held in basements of historians. Because most historians spend a lot of time in basements playing cards and drinking whiskey, this is an important admonishment.

Chester Nimitz was born in Fredericksburg, Texas and grew up far from the oceans in the hill country of central Texas (where they tell me peaches are prevalent). One might wonder how such a person would ever grow up to be a higly honored Naval officer. Well, you see, Nimitz tried really hard to get into West Point but was told no appointments were available. So, since he desired a career as a military officer, if the Army wouldn't have him, he would take his business to Annapolis and the Naval Academy. I would guess that he really enjoyed the annual Army-Navy football game. In 1905 he graduated seventh in his class.

His first Naval tour of duty after graduation involved a tour of the Pacific and the Orient. He then served under the commander of the Atlantic submarine fleet during World War I and then taught classes on submarine tactics. In 1933 he was given the command of a heavy cruiser division that roamed the Far East, which would be instrumental later on, as he used this time to familiarize himself with the area. At that time he warned his superiors that the Japanese were developing into a potential threat to the United States as he watched their military build-up and their strikes against the Asian mainland.

A week after December 7, 1941 produced a memorable skirmish at Pearl Harbor, Navy Secretary Frank Knox handed Nimitz the command of the Pacific Fleet. Known as a tactical expert and a leader who delegated responsibility and knew how to select excellent subordinates, Nimitz became the opposite of Douglas MacArthur. He was quiet, introspective, avoided media exposure, and had a distaste for self-promotion. Because of the fact that Nimitz and MacArthur had to coordinate their efforts in order to produce a victory in the war, it was Nimitz's personality that kept the two military leaders from clashing on the ego front.

Chester Nimitz was not the kind of person to roll over and take a slight, despite his ability to avoid the spotlight that MacArthur craved. After the Allied victory in the Pacific, Nimitz was told that MacArthur would run the surrender ceremony and accept the Japanese surrender. After he informed the Secretary of the Navy he would not be able to make it to the MacArthur-centric ceremony because he felt it slighted the Navy, President Harry S. Truman changed the script. MacArthur got to put on a show and oversee the festivities, but it would be Chester Nimitz who accepted the surrender on board the USS Missouri.

After the war, he served in a variety of Naval and public service positions.

Ten years after his death, Henry Fonda portrayed Nimitz in the film Midway. The Navy currently floats a 95,000 ton supercarrier named after him. (Um, Fonda played Nimitz 10 years after Nimitz's death and the U.S. Navy has an aircraft carrier named after Nimitz, not Fonda. Sorry for the confusion.)

According to Mister Snicker Furfoot there is a high school just outside Pearl Harbor named for Chester Nimitz, which he also informs me is part of the "nationally worst school system in the United States." If this is true, I believe Admiral Nimitz would be ticked off about it. At least he has the aircraft carrier, which I must also note is supposed to be the largest and most advanced carrier ever built. Unless they built another one since that the voices in my head aren't telling me about.

Some information collected from the United States Naval Historical Center
and a book about planes that doesn't even mention Nimitz.

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