NIMITZ TO HEAD PACIFIC OPERATIONS

Washington, D.C. · April 3, 1945

On this date in 1945 the Roosevelt adminis­tra­tion appointed Gen. Douglas Mac­Arthur Com­mander-in-Chief U.S. Army Forces Pacific (AFPAC), respon­si­ble for all Army and Army Air Forces units in the Pacific thea­ter excepting Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay’s Twen­tieth Air Force based in the Mari­anas. At the same time Adm. Chester W. Nimitz became Com­mander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet (CinCPac). These moves were part of the pre­pa­ra­tions for Opera­tion Down­fall, the in­va­sion of Japan set to begin in Octo­ber 1945. MacArthur, who was recalled to active duty in June 1941 to mobi­lize the Philip­pine Army, was appointed Supreme Com­man­der of the South­west Pacific Area (SWPA) upon its crea­tion in April 1942. (SWPA was one of three areas in the Pacific Theater; the other two were Pacific Ocean Areas (POA) and the South­east Paci­fic Area.) From that post Mac­Arthur moved on to head the Allied occu­pa­tion of Japan (1945–1951). Ten days after the attack on Pearl Har­bor, Nimitz was appointed Com­mander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT). In March 1942 Nimitz was ele­vated to Com­man­der-in-Chief, Pacific Ocean Area (CinCPOA), which placed all U.S. and Allied air, land, and sea forces under him. On Decem­ber 15, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Nimitz to the rank of Fleet Admiral of the United States Navy, a five-star rank only estab­lished the pre­vious day by an Act of the U.S. Con­gress. In the last four­teen months of the war, Nimitz’s Fleet Forces in­flicted a deci­sive defeat on the Japa­nese in the Battle of the Philip­pine Sea (June 19–20, 1944); captured Sai­pan (June 15–July 9, 1944), Guam (July 21–August 10, 1944), and Tini­an (July 24–August 1, 1944); and se­cured in rapid suc­ces­sion Pele­liu (Sep­tem­ber 15–Novem­ber 27, 1944), An­gaur (Sep­tem­ber 17–Octo­ber 22, 1944), and Uli­thi (Sep­tem­ber 1944), which became the un­dis­closed Pacific base for the major oper­a­tions late in the war. In the Philip­pines his ships scored an his­toric vic­tory in the Battle of Leyte Gulf (Octo­ber 24–26, 1944). Nimitz cul­mi­nated his Pacific stra­tegy by suc­cess­ful am­phib­i­ous assaults on Iwo Jima (Febru­ary 19–March 26, 1945) and Oki­na­wa (April 1–June 22, 1945). On Sep­tem­ber 2, 1945, on board the USS Mis­souri in Tokyo Bay, Nimitz signed for the United States when Japan for­mally sur­ren­dered in a twenty-three-minute cere­mony that was broadcast around the world.





Five-Star Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (1885–1966), Commander of the Pacific Ocean Theater

Adm. Nimitz signs Japanese Instrument of Surrender, 9/2/45 Portrait of Nimitz at National Gallery

Left: Japanese surrender aboard the USS Mis­souri, Tokyo Bay, Sep­tem­ber 2, 1945. Adm. Chester Nimitz signed the in­str­ument of sur­render for the United States. At the micro­phone is Gen. Douglas Mac­Arthur, Supreme Com­mander for the Allied Powers.

Right: Adm. Chester Nimitz as he appears at the National Por­trait Gal­lery in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Nimitz was one of only four Fleet Admirals in the U.S. Navy. A Fleet Admiral takes orders only from the Pre­si­dent of the United States, and it is a life­time appointment.

The Adm. Chester Nimitz Story, a U.S. Army “Big Picture” Film