He was aggressive in war without hate; he never forgot that he was dealing with human beings, on both sides of the conflict. (E.R. Potter, 1976)
Born to Frederickburg, Texas in 1885, Chester W. Nimitz was accepted into the United States naval Academy at age 15, graduating seventh in his class in 1905.
Nimitz was assigned to the Asiatic Fleet, serving aboard the battleship USS Ohio (BB12), visiting Japan for the first time. He later commanded the captured Spanish gunboat Panay and the USS Decatur (DD 5).
Nimitz was next assigned to the submarine service, where he remained for much of the next 20 years.
With the dedication and foresight that would characterize his entire naval career, Nimitz became an expert in submarine tactics and technology, was an early advocate of diesel engines, and directed construction of the submarine base at Pearl Harbor.
Attending the Naval War College in the 1920's, Nimitz studied potential Pacific war scenarios, lessons he put to use in the years to come. By December 7, 1941, Nimitz had risen to flag rank and was Chief of the Bureau of Navigation.
Within weeks of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Nimitz was appointed Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and soon afterward, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas.
He was the right man for the job, restoring morale, building an able and aggressive team and brilliantly commanding naval force during the critical Battle of Midway and throughout the remainder of the war.
By 1944, in recognition of his superior leadership during the advancing Pacific campaign, Nimitz was promoted to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral. Then, on September 2, 1945, following the capitulation of Japanese forces, Nimitz was designated by President Truman as signatory for the United States during the formal Japanese surrender abroad the USS Missouri (BB 63) in Tokyo Bay.
After War's end, Nimitz was appointed Chief of Naval Operations, directing deployment of naval forces during the initial years of the Cold War. He also did much to restore goodwill with Japan including restoration of the historic battleship Mikasa, the flagship of Marshal-Admiral Togo Heihachiro during the Russo-Japanese War.
Chester W. Nimitz died peacefully at his home in San Francisco on February 20, 1966 and is buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California.
Second Panel: "Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain death-the seas bear only commerce, men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world is quietly at peace."I speak for the thousands of silent lips, forever stilled among the jungles and the beaches and in the deep waters of the Pacific which marked the way. I speak for the unnamed brave millions homeward bound to take up the challenge of that future which they did so much to salvage from the brink of disaster.
As I look back on the long, tortuous trail from those grim days of Bataan and Corregidor, when an entire world lived in fear....we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war....
Your sons and daughters have served you well and faithfully with the calm, deliberated determined fighting spirit of the American soldier...They are homeward bound-take care of them."General of the Army Douglas MacArthur"Supreme Commander for the Allied PowersExcerpt from radio broadcast given after conclusion of the Surrender Ceremony aboard USS Missouri (BB 63) in Tokoyo Bay, September 2, 1945.