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Chester Nimitz

Chester Nimitz was born in Fredericksburg, Texas, on 24th February, 1885. He attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and graduated in 1905 (7/144) and joined the United States Navy.

He served in the Philippines and in 1909 was assigned to underwater service. Although he initially disliked this move he eventually became the navy's leading authority on submarines.

In 1912 he was given command of the Atlantic Submarine Flotilla and the following year spent time with the German Navy studying diesel engines. When he returned to the United States he recommended their use by the United States Navy.

During the First World War Nimitz was chief of staff in the Atlantic Submarine Force. He also set up the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of California (1926-29). Afterwards he headed the San Diego destroyer base, was captain of the cruiser Augusta and was assistant chief of the Bureau of Navigation in Washington.

Promoted to rear admiral in 1938 Nimitz commanded Cruiser Division and Battleship Division before becoming chief of the Bureau of Navigation.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor Nimitz was was placed in charge of the Pacific Fleet. Urged on by Admiral Ernest King, Commander in Chief of the US Fleet, Nimitz sent William Halsey to attack the Marshall Islands and Frank Fletcher to raid the Gilbert Islands.

Nimitz, King and General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific, decided that their first objective should be to establish and protect a line of communications across the South Pacific to Australia. This resulted in the battles of Coral Sea and Midway, where the Japanese Navy lost all four of her carriers.

Throughout the war Nimitz met regularly with Admiral Ernest King and General Douglas MacArthur. King and MacArthur constantly clashed over strategy. Whereas MacArthur favoured an early return to the Philippines King wanted the islands bypassed so that all available resources could be employed to take Formosa. King believed that the island could then be used as a base for invading mainland China. Unable to gain agreement the matter was eventually passed to Franklin D. Roosevelt to make the decision.

In December 1944 Nimitz, William Leahy and Ernest King were all given the five star rank of Fleet Admiral. At the end of the Second World War Nimitz was succeeded by Raymond Spruance as commander of the Pacific Fleet. In November 1945 Nimitz replaced King as Commander in Chief of the US Fleet.

Nimitz retired from the United States Navy in 1947 and two years later accepted the post as a good will ambassador for the United Nations. Chester Nimitz, who declined to write his memoirs, died at his home in San Francisco Bay on 20th February 1966.




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