First, you might be asking, “Who is this guy Nimitz and why would he have a museum?”
Well, Chester W. Nimitz was a man from humble beginnings that ended up as one of our nation’s highest ranking military officers. Nimitz went to Annapolis to attend the Naval Academy at the age of fifteen…..fifteen!! He then graduated early to fill the ranks of Roosevelt’s navy.
In his early years in the navy, he commanded USS Decatur, a destroyer, which he ended up running aground. Not something that you would normally think a future admiral would have on his resume. He also commanded USS Skipjack, one of the earliest submarines.
During World War II, he was serving as the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was handpicked by Roosevelt to relieve Admiral Kimmel ahead of 28 flag officers who were higher in seniority.
Some of Nimitz’s most well known actions took place when he was Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT) and when he was promoted to Fleet Admiral, the highest rank in the Navy. His strategy led our forces to wins in well-known battles such as the Battle of the Coral Sea (the first action where opposing forces’ carriers engaged each other as well as the first in which neither side’s ships sighted or fired directly upon the other), the Battle of Midway, Mariana Islands, Battle of Philippine Sea, and Solomon Islands campaign, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, among others.
Perhaps one of the most iconic photos of World War II was on September 2, 1945 when Nimitz signed for the United States when Japan formally surrendered on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
Ok, now that you know who he is, maybe you are wondering “Why in the world is there a Navy museum smack in the middle of the Texas Hill Country?”
To answer that, you go back to Nimitz’s roots. Chester Nimitz was born in Fredericksburg, Texas in 1885. His father died before he was born, so he grew up with his grandfather playing a key role in his upbringing. His grandfather had a long history of service in the German Merchant Marines, the Texas Rangers, and the Confederate States Army.
His grandfather owned a hotel in Fredericksburg, called the Nimitz Steamboat Hotel. Young Chester can be seen in the picture below under the letter “N”.
The museum today has been beautifully restored and has expanded to three museums on a 6 acre campus, with the main building right on Main Street.
I have always enjoyed visiting the Nimitz Museum in my hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas. It is a very special place during our nation’s holidays that honor our veterans and the fallen, major military battles, or our independence.
Our family visited the Nimitz on Memorial Day weekend this year where they had a program in the courtyard to remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The Memorial Courtyard honors those individuals, ships and units that fought in the Pacific theatre in WWII. To see all of their names and stories on the wall is humbling. Take the time to reflect.
In the rear of the museum, an Essex class aircraft carrier ship’s screw is a focal point as a fountain.
The kids loved reaching in the water and throwing a few coins in.
We just have to keep them from pulling them back out! The museum also has several static displays of deck guns which are a big hit with the kids. They enjoy sitting on the operator’s chairs and turning the elevation adjustment wheels.
At the time of our visit, we didn’t have to fight too many other visitors for a seat, so the kids could sit and play.
The holidays are always a special time to visit, but the museum is open 9am – 5pm, 7 days a week (closed for major holidays). It is a world class museum designed for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
The admission charges vary. WWII Veterans, as would be expected, are free. Military personnel (active or retired) with ID are $10. Adults are $14, Seniors 65+ are $12, Children 6+ are $7 and Children under 5 are Free.
I will leave you with a few words from Admiral Nimitz himself:
“They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation — the obligation to insure that their sacrifice will help make this a better and safer world in which to live.”
— Chester W. Nimitz, Fleet Admiral, USN 1885-1966