Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz (February 24, 1885 – February 20, 1966)

Chester Nimitz, an American of German descent, was born in Fredericksburg Texas in 1885 and is one of the most storied admirals in American history. His grandfather’s hotel in Fredericksburg is now the Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site.

Card image cap

Before he completed high school, Nimitz was accepted to the United States Navy Academy in 1901 at age 15. He graduated seventh in a class of 114 on January 30, 1905. After serving on the staff of the commander of submarines in the Atlantic Ocean during World War I, Nimitz always considered submarines his first love. Among his varied duties between the wars, Nimitz commanded several ships including the battleship South Carolina and the cruisers Augusta and Chicago. During the 1930s in Washington, DC, he served as Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Navigation and in 1939 became the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. From there, President Roosevelt chose Nimitz to relieve Admiral Kimmel after the Navy's devastating defeat at Pearl Harbor. In December 1944, Nimitz was promoted to five-star fleet admiral.

On September 2, 1945—aboard the USS Missouri—Fleet Admiral Nimitz was United States representative and signatory to the Japanese surrender documents while General Douglas MacArthur signed for the United Nations. Nimitz lived out his years in quarters number one, Yerba Buena Island, San Francisco, CA, and died on February 20, 1966. He is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery.

While living on Yerba Buena Island, Admiral Nimitz became involved with the Drake Navigators Guild at the invitation of his good friend, Captain Adolph Oko. As a charter member of the Guild, his background and expertise added much to the Guild’s efforts. He enjoyed visiting Point Reyes during archaeological digs when he would also spend some time digging clams while his wife painted landscapes and his daughters played in the tide pools.

In the March-April1958 issue of Pacific Discovery, Nimitz authored “Drake’s Cove: A Navigational Approach to Identification" and stated:

In summary, the course charted by the Drake Navigators Guild has led to the only site that fully meets all the requirements indicated by the documentary accounts of the voyage.

In addition to bringing his academic background and maritimve expertise to the Guild, Admiral Nimitz was the Guild Honorary Chairman and spokesman for the group. He died in 1966 is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery next to his friends Admiral Raymond Spruance and Admiral Charles Turner.