Nimitz, Chester William (1885–1966), a United States naval officer. In World War II he was commander of the Pacific Fleet in the war against Japan. He took command on December 31, 1941, just after the Pearl Harbor disaster. His tact, leadership, and courage restored confidence.
Nimitz reorganized the fleet for a series of hit-and-run carrier raids. His strategy was responsible for the victories of Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal. He was dual commander with General Douglas MacArthur, supreme allied commander in the Southwest Pacific, in the final campaign from the landing on Leyte to the naval victory of Leyte Gulf, and was present at the surrender of Japan.
Nimitz was born in Fredericksburg, Texas. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1905. During World War I Nimitz was chief of staff for the commander of the Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet. In 1919 he became executive officer of the battleship South Carolina. He was attached to the University of California Naval Reserve Unit, 1926–29. Nimitz commanded the cruiser Augusta, 1933–35. He was assistant chief of the Bureau of Navigation, 1935–38, and served as chief, 1934–41, after commanding as rear admiral a battleship division of the Battle Force.
In 1944 Nimitz was promoted to admiral of the fleet, the Navy's highest rank. He was chief of naval operations, 1945–47, then was appointed special assistant to the secretary of the navy, serving until his death.