Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 25, 2012
Admiral Nimitz arriving in Hawaii

Admiral Nimitz arriving in Hawaii

December 25, 1941: Admiral Chester W. Nimitz arrives at Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, inflicting great damage on the Pacific Fleet. At the time, there were eight battleships in the harbor. Four of them were sunk, three were damaged, and one was grounded. Two other ships were sunk, nine more were damaged. There were 188 aircraft destroyed and another 159 damaged. Husband Kimmel and Walter Short watched in horror as 2,402 were killed and 1,247 wounded. There were 57 civilians killed and 35 more wounded. The Japanese lost 5 submarines and 29 aircraft. There were 64 Japanese killed and one captured.

On December 17, Nimitz was selected as Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet, effective December 31. He was flown out to Hawaii to relieve Adm. Kimmel of command. He was carried across the ocean aboard a PB2Y-2 Coronado, a four-engine plane which was a larger version of the PBY Catalina. The plane left San Diego in the early evening of December 24. It took 17.2 hours to fly from California to Hawaii. As the plane approached Pearl Harbor, Nimitz was invited by the pilot to the flight deck. They flew circles around the harbor, giving the admiral a chance to truly see the damage inflicted. Nimitz took command standing on the deck of the submarine USS Grayling. Normally this would have been done on the deck of a battleship, but all of them had been either sunk or damaged in the attack.

On March 24, 1942, a newly formed US-British Combined Chiefs of Staff decided that the Pacific Ocean would be America’s strategic responsibility. By the end of the month, the US had divided the Pacific into three separate theaters – the Pacific Ocean Areas (POA), the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA under the command of General Douglas MacArthur), and the South East Pacific Area. Nimitz was given the job of Commander in Chief over all areas with operational control over all Allied forces – air, land, and sea.

His first order of business after taking command was to build the fleet back to some form of operational strength. He successfully organized the restoration of ships, planes, and supplies and was able to mount an effective defense, and then an offense against the Japanese forces. He took the fight to the Japanese and defeated the navy forces at the Battle of the Coral Sea. He went on to the Battle of Midway, and pushed forward to the Solomon Islands Campaign. On December 14, 1944, Congress approved a new rank of Fleet Admiral of the United States Navy, the highest grade in the navy. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt bestowed the rank on Chester Nimitz.

He [Nimitz] took the time to shake the hand of every member of the crew and thank them for a comfortable flight and apologized to each for having taken them from their families on Christmas Day! What a giant of a man. What a great leader to take over the Pacific Fleet! – Captain Frank DeLorenzo

Those dirty bastards! Somehow, someway, we are going to make them pay! – Chester W. Nimitz, as the plane circled the harbor upon his arrive to Hawaii

God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless. – Chester W. Nimitz

That is not to say that we can relax our readiness to defend ourselves. Our armament must be adequate to the needs, but our faith is not primarily in these machines of defense but in ourselves. – Chester W. Nimitz

Also on this day:

Mastodons – In 1801 the first complete mastodon skeleton was discovered.
Scone Stone – In 1950, the Stone of Scone was stolen.
It Is Finished – In 1991, the dissolution of the USSR was completed.

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