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December 25, 1941 - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (right) arrives at Pearl Harbor to take command of the shattered Pacific Fleet. Though he had originally desired to attend West Point, Nimitz entered the US Naval Academy in 1901. Graduating in 1905, he moved through various sea assignments and developed specialties in submarines and diesel technology. Serving in staff assignments during World War I, he later attended the US Naval War College. After numerous peacetime assignments, he was tapped to lead the US Pacific Fleet after Pearl Harbor. Overseeing this force and the Pacific Ocean Areas, Nimitz's ships and men won key victories at Coral Sea and Midway to halt the Japanese advance. Going on the offensive in August 1942, Nimitz moved through the Solomons before mounting an "island hopping" campaign across the Pacific to Japan. Present at the Japanese surrender in Toyko Bay in September 1945, he later served as Chief of Naval Operations before retiring in 1947. Where does Nimitz rank among the all-time great American naval leaders?

Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command

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