Chester William Nimitz, son of a retired sea captain named Charles Nimitz, was born near Fredericksburg, Texas on February 24, 1885. Nimitz grew up there, and went to Tivy High School in Kerrville, Texas. He attempted to start a military career in the Army, but was rejected by West Point. In 1901, Nimitz started the career he needed, but the opening came from the Naval Academy at Annapolis instead of West Point.
Four years later, Chester Nimitz graduated seventh in his class. After a required two years of sea duty aboard the USS Ohio, Nimitz was promoted to ensign and commanded the USS Panay. Later that year, Nimitz became commander of the USS Decatur, which was later beached while Nimitz was commanding it.
Nimitz was then assigned to several subs until 1912. He was aboard the USS Plunger before commanding the USS Snapper, the USS Narwhal, and the USS Skipjack (later renamed to E-1).
On March 20, 1912, Lieutenant Chester Nimitz rescued a member of the USS Skipjack’s crew from drowning in a strong tide. Nimitz and the crewman, Fireman (Second class) W.J. Walsh, managed to stay afloat until they were both picked up by a small boat. This act earned Nimitz the Silver Lifesaving Medal. Shortly afterwards, Nimitz became the commander of the Atlantic Submarine Flotilla.
In 1913, Nimitz oversaw the construction of diesel engines for a tanker in Groton, Connecticut. He also studied diesel engines in several European countries. Once the engine was completed, Nimitz became the Executive Officer and Engineering Officer aboard the tanker, named the USS Maumee.
With the United States joining World War I in 1917, Chester Nimitz was appointed to the position of Aide and Chief of Staff under the Commander of the Atlantic Submarine Forces. He would hold this position until September 1918, when he joined the Board of Submarine Design and entered the office of Chief of Naval Operations.
In 1919, Chester Nimitz became the Executive Officer aboard the USS South Carolina, followed by duty on the USS Chicago as the Commander of Submarine Division 14.
In 1922, Nimitz entered the Naval War College, where he would remain until his graduation in 1926. Once he graduated he would become the first professor to teach Naval Science and Tactics at the University of California in Berkeley. He remained there for three years, where he would join submarine duty again, this time as the Commander of Submarine Division 20.
In 1931, he left that, where he would command the USS Rigel and several decommissioned destroyers for the next two years. Chester Nimitz was then given command of the heavy cruiser USS Augusta, which was his largest command yet. The USS Augusta was the flagship of the United States Asiatic Fleet for most of its career.
Once again, he had a two year career before becoming the Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. He also became the commander of Cruiser Division Two, and then became Commander of Battleship Division One, lasting until 1939. Nimitz then planned to start a four year term as the Chief of the Bureau of Navigations, which was cut short by the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
When the United States entered World War II, Chester Nimitz became the Commander-In-Chief of the Pacific Fleet forces. He would hold this position throughout World War II. Nimitz was promoted to Admiral barely three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 31, 1941.
On December 19, 1944, Chester Nimitz was promoted to Fleet Admiral. About nine months later, on September 2, 1945, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz was the representative of the United States that signed the surrender documents that ended World War II aboard the USS Missouri.
Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz removed his flag from Pearl Harbor on November 26, 1945. On December 15, he replaced Fleet Admiral Ernest King’s position of Chief of Naval Operations. He became the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy in the Western Frontier on January 1, 1948. In March of 1949, Chester Nimitz was elected to the United Nations, for Kashmir. He was appointed Chairman of the Committee of International Security and Industrial Rights by President Harry Truman, but the committee was never formed because Congress didn’t pass the required legislation.
Afterwards, Nimitz did everything possible to improve relations between Japan and the United States by raising money to restore the HIJMS Mikasa, which was the ship which Isoroku Yamamoto was wounded aboard during the battle of Tsushima. He also worked at the University of California and helped the community of San Francisco and continued his interest in the Navy and the United States. Chester Nimitz worked with the Naval Historical Society, and eventually became the president of it.
Chester William Nimitz died on February 20, 1966 at the age of 90, just four days before his 91st birthday. Chester Nimitz was one of the greatest commanders that the Unites States had to offer during World War II. Nimitz successfully employed submarine warfare which drastically helped to win the Pacific War, and his post-war efforts helped to repair relations between the United States and Japan.
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