Chester W. Nimitz Admiral of the American Navy

Chester W. Nimitz, commonly known as Admiral Nimitz was the admiral of the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. He participated in the Pacific Theater, and helped win major battles.


Left to right, Willie Nimitz (stepfather and uncle), half brother Otto, half sister Dora, Nimitz and his mother Anna.

Chester was born on February 24, 1885 in the German-American settlement of Fredericksburg, Texas. He was the son of Chester Benard and Anna Henke. His father died before he was born and his mother named him after his father. At age 6, his mother Anna married her husbands brother Willie. The family moved to Kerrville, to work at a hotel managed by his aunt. When he was 15, an army field artillery battery camped nearby. The new uniforms of the two new graduates fascinated Nimitz. They told him about the wonders and glories of army life and of West Point. That was enough to convince him to want to become an army officer. However, entering West Point was not easy, and he wasn't able to get in. His grandfather convinced him to join the navy instead, and he did.

Naval Academy

Nimitz attended Naval Academy even before he finished high school. The qualifying exam for Naval Academy was very hard and covered a lot of things that Nimitz has not yet learned. However, Nimitz worked hard and was able to get into the Naval Academy at Annapolis. Naval Academy was tough and only 114 of the 130 students graduated, and Nimitz ranked at number 7, which was very good for someone who had not yet finished high school. Nimitz learned two very important lessons while at Naval Academy. They were to always give people a second chance and to never start a fight over who gets credit for something. He learned his first lesson when he was getting some beer for himself and his roommates. He saw someone, who saw him, and thought nothing of it. The next day, he found out that the person who saw him was a faculty member, but he never said anything about the incident. Later, Nimitz wrote:"This escapade...taught me to look with lenient and tolerant eye on first offenders. He learned his next lesson when two people, Rear Admiral William T. Sampson and Commodore Winfield Scott Schley got into an argument of who deserved credit for a victory. Sampson was the commander of the Atlantic Fleet, but was away at the time and Schley was the on scene commander. After a long time, the dispute was finally settled, but not before the Navy was humiliated. This caused Nimitz to vow to never to make the same mistake.

Pre- War adventures

(Left)Chester Nimitz as an ensign. (Upper right) The USS Decatur. (Lower right) The USS Panay.

After Nimitz graduated from Naval Academy, he got promoted to the rank of Ensign. He and his classmate Bruce Canaga were assigned the command of 2 captured gunboats, the Panay and the Paragua in 1907. Their goal was to show any restless natives who weren't used to being under American control that they were under American control. Later, Nimitz was assigned the command of the destroyer, the Decatur. This time his job was to bring the governor of the Sulu Archipelago around to calm local disputes. After a while, Nimitz was relieved of his duties aboard the Decatur and was switched to submarine command. Submarines started out as if they were still greatly inferior to other ships, but during World War One, they proved that they could be very effective when the Germans sank over 4,000 ships, totaling to 11,000,000 tons using only submarines. After Nimitz was done with submarine command, he got switched over to education. The US Navy was lacking officers due to the rapid expansion of the US Navy, so Nimitz was sent to be a teacher at the Reserve Officers Training Program (ROTC). This assignment has some irony in it because Nimitz didn't even graduate from high school and now he was college professor. Three years later, Nimitz switched roles again. This time the Navy assigned him to command of a squadron of 35 destroyers for two years. His main job was to keep them from sinking. 2 years later, when his shift was over, he became to captain of the Augusta, a 2 year old heavy cruiser. The Augusta was the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. Nimitz made sure that the crew of the Augusta was the best and anyone who didn't meet Nimitz's expectations was transferred to another ship. This was proven when the Augusta won a score that was almost unheard of, outstanding, during the annual Admiral's Inspection. In 1935, Nimitz became an assistant chief of the Bureau of Navigation (BUNAV) in Washington D.C. War in Europe began and BUNAV worked to recruit more people into the navy because the fleet manning level was 87%, compared to the wartime recommendation of 115% to cover casualties. Advertisements helped increase the people signing up to join the Navy and the Navies quotas were almost full.

World War 2

War officially started in America on December 7th, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, sinking 21 ships, destroying 200 planes and killing over 2,000. On December 11th, the Japanese invaded the Malayans and in the process, sank the HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Repulse. In doing so, they started a new form of war: the Japanese sank the two ships using only airplanes. Later the Japanese attacked Hong Kong, Guam, the Philippines and Wake Island. On December 16, Nimitz was appointed commander of the Pacific Fleet after this disaster. The Americans were actually pretty lucky because their carriers weren't at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack. The Japanese also caused 2 unintended consequences for themselves. The first is that by sinking the battleships, they opened up opportunity for the submarine and the aircraft carrier to play more important role in the American Navy. They also made the public to support the war with Japan and greatly increased the American War effort. On April 18, 1942, the Americans launched sixteen B-25 bombers from the USS Hornet. The sixteen bombers bombed Japan and that raid became known as the Doolittle Raid because it was led by James Doolittle. Although the attack did little physical and psychological damage, the raid forced the Japanese to do something about the American carriers. In early May, the American code breakers found out that the the Japanese were preparing for an invasion somewhere. Eventually, the Americans broke the Japanese code and found out that the Japanese were planning to invade Midway on June 4. During the battle of Midway, the Americans lost 1 carrier (The Yorktown) while the Japanese lost 4 (The Hiryu, Soryu, Kaga and Akagi). This was mainly due to the fact that the Americans broke the Japanese code and know exactly where they were. On April 14, 1943, Nimitz was handed a decoded Japanese message that was intercepted. The message stated that the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto was going to visit 3 small bases. The Message stated everything, even to the exact minute of the departure. So Nimitz got his friend Bill Halsey to plan the attack. The attack was done with 16 P-38 fighter aircraft and was successful in killing Admiral Yamamoto. Over a series of battles, such as the that at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Leyte gulf and Okinawa, Japan was getting weaker. Eventually, the napalm and the two nukes got Japan to surrender.

Nimitz signing the terms for Japanese surrender.

Personal life

Nimitz got married to Catherine Freeman on April 9th, 1913. He had 4 children, Catherine, Chester Junior, Anna and Mary. Nimitz died in his quarters on February 20, 1966, four days before his 81st birthday.

Lasting Legacy

USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

Currently, there are many things that memorialize Nimitz, such as statues, paintings and photographs. The most noticeable is the Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carriers. The ten carriers of this class are the largest in the world, they are 1,092 feet long, 252 feet wide and has a flight deck area of 4.5 acres. The carrier towers 23 stories from keel to the top of the mast. The Nimitz carriers are the USS Nimitz, CVN-68, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, CVN-69, USS Carl Vinson, CVN-70, USS Theodore Roosevelt, CVN-71, USS Abraham Lincoln, CVN-72, USS George Washington, CVN-73, USS John C. Stennis, CVN-74, USS Harry S. Truman, CVN-75, USS Ronald Reagan, CVN-76 and the USS George W. Bush, CVN-77. All these carriers have a displacement of 97,000 tons and are almost as twice the size of the next largest carrier, the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov.



Determined, kind, smart, forgiving

Husband of Catherine Freeman, father of Catherine, Chester, Anna and Mary

Who valued peace, success and determination

Who hated arguments, liked happiness and loved to help others

Who feared not getting enough recruits, feared getting expelled from naval academy and feared that his crew wasn't good enough

Who changed the course of history by helping win great battles

Who wanted to see America win the war and the Navy be great

Born in Fredericksburg, Texas, lived in SF, California



"Admiral Chester Nimitz". Flickr. Stone, Seymor.

"Ensign Chester W. Nimitz." The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia.

"Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz." Naval History and Heritage Command.

Harris, Brayton. Admiral Nimitz. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

"Nimitz Family." Naval Historical Collection.

"Surrender of Japan." Naval Historical Center.

"USS Decatur (DD-5)." Wikipedia.

"USS Nimitz (CVN-68)." Wikipedia.

"USS Panay." Wikipedia Commons.


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