Study Guide

Admiral Chester William Nimitz in Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation

By President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Admiral Chester William Nimitz

Director On The Waves

During World War II, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was the U.S. Navy's Steven Spielberg.

When we say that, do we mean that he was responsible for coordinating the Navy's actions during the war, or that he was responsible for casting the Navy's players into their best roles, or what?

Yes. We mean all of that. Including the "or what."

Because Chester William Nimitz…that guy could do it all.

As a young buck, he'd originally wanted to go to West Point. Lucky for the United States, West Point was all booked up and he ended up going to the United States Naval Academy instead.

And the rest is history.

But it's really important history, so we're going to fill you in on it.

In 1906 after he finished up at the Academy, Chester officially joined the Navy and began what would end up being an incredibly impressive career that involved the acquisition of many medals of honor and only one court-martial.

But even the court-martial ended up working in his favor because (a) he didn't get kicked out of the Navy despite his conviction, and (b) it actually led him to the next stage in his career, which was a big one.

Because after the court-martial, Nimitz started learning about submarines.

And during World War II…submarines were a really. big. deal.

Midway or the Highway

Anyway, when the attack on Pearl Harbor happened, Nimitz was chillin' at a concert in Washington, D.C., just enjoying his Sunday Funday.

Ten days later, thanks to FDR and a bunch of Japanese bombs, Admiral Nimitz officially became Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet and relocated to Hawaii.

A few months after that, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had a pow-wow and divvied up the Pacific Theater into three regions of control: the South West Pacific Area, the Southeast Pacific Area, and the Pacific Ocean Areas.

Control of operations for the South West was given to Army General Douglas MacArthur. The Southeast, which wasn't really doing much, was handed over to Navy Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Ernest King. The Pacific Ocean Areas? That went to our boy Chester.

And boy, was the U.S. glad that it did.

Because in June of 1942, a little something called the Battle of Midway happened.

The Battle of Midway was an epic success for Nimitz, the United States, and the Allies. Japan had planned to swoop in all Pearl Harbor style, capture the Midway Islands, and use them to take over Hawaii, but Nimitz and his codebreakers were totally onto their scheme and were all, "Not today, pal."

Now we're not saying the Battle of Midway was without its losses. There were losses.

But the blow to Japan's morale was ginormous, and it wasn't long before the Pacific Theater tide started to turn in favor of the Allies.

With MacArthur and Nimitz leading the Army and Navy charges, the United States island-hopped its way to Japan, tucking victory after victory under its belt.

And Admiral Nimitz got to see the fruits of his labor firsthand when he and General MacArthur presided over Japan's surrender three years later on Chester's own flagship, the USS Missouri.

Yeah; Admiral Nimitz was pretty much the best.