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70th anniversary – Nimitz named Commander of US Pacific Fleet

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On December 17, 1941, Chester W. Nimitz replaced Admiral Husband E. Kimmel as the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet. Kimmel’s dismissal was a direct result of the December 7 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Nimitz, regarded as an expert submariner, rose to the rank of Fleet Admiral of the United States Navy and was the US representative at the Japanese surrender in aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

The Museum’s collection has a number of photos showing Admiral Nimitz pinning awards on beaming sailors, but we wanted to share an image of Nimitz himself being recognized for his service with his second Distinguished Service Medal with his wife and daughter at his side.

The official caption on this Navy Department photo read –

File No. 45472 May 9, 1944 Admiral Nimitz awarded second distinguished service medal — For the second time in this war, Admiral Ernest J. King, USN, Commander-in-Chief of the U. S. fleet, presented the Distinguished Service Medal to Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, Commander-in-Chief of the U. S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Area. Looking on as Admiral King (left) shakes hands with Admiral Nimitz following the presentation on May 7, 1944, at San Francisco, are (left to right) Mrs. Chester W. Nimitz, Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. USN, Commander South Pacific Force and South Pacific Areas, and Mary Nimitz, the Admiral’s 13-year-old daughter. The citation accompanying the award reads in part: ‘For exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United States…as Commander-in-Chief of the U. S. Pacific Fleet since December 31, 1941…despite the losses at Pearl Harbor and tragic shortage of vessels, planes and supplies. (Admiral Nimitz) organized his forces and carried on defensive warfare which halted the Japanese advance. As rapidly as ships, personnel and material became available, he shifted from defensive to offensive warfare and…as a result of his sound judgment and masterful conduct of naval warfare in the Pacific, our forces have assumed a position of dominance in this vital area.” In July, 1942, the Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to Admiral Nimitz in recognition of the victories in the Coral Sea and at Midway.” 9 May 1944

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