Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

     In May of 1981, I remember following the news reports of a jet crashing into flames on the aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz not far from Jacksonville.  Apparently, the pilot slightly missed the landing area, but with the small amount of space, there was no room for error. 
     That day 14 crewmembers died in the fire.  48 more were injured.  Some of them were taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Jacksonville.  4 jets were destroyed, including the one that crashed.  16 others were damaged.
     This incident stuck with me through the years.  I was excited to find out that the namesake of that carrier had a museum in his hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas.  Chester W. Nimitz was a World War II Pacific fleet commander, who was the Navy’s third fleet admiral.
     Chester W. Nimitz grandfather was a German immigrant who moved to Fredericksburg and built the Nimitz Hotel.  Locals referred to it as the Steamboat Hotel because of the ship’s bow front.  The hotel had its own saloon and brewery, a ballroom that doubled as a theatre, a smokehouse and a bath house.
Nimitz Steamboat Hotel

Chester W. Nimitz
     Chester W. Nimitz grew up in Fredericksburg and nearby Kerrville.  While still a teenager, Chester was accepted for enrollment in the United States Naval Academy.  There he graduated seventh out of a class of 114.  He rose to the rank of Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Forces in World War II.  Fleet Admiral Nimitz died February 20, 1966.
     The Nimitz Hotel now houses a museum, which is dedicated to Chester and his life in the United States Navy.  I found him to be a very interesting man and hope to learn even more about him.  The museum also covers six acres and is dedicated to the Pacific battles of World War II
Admiral Richard with his big gun. 
Pacific Battle Zone.
     We visited the Pacific Combat Zone.  It’s a re-creation of the Pacific Island battlefield.  That area was outside and totally surrounded by bamboo forests.  We saw a Quonset hut hospital, a PT boat and base, Japanese tank, palm trees and machine gun placements.  They do re-enactments throughout the year.
     My friend Jeannie is what I consider an expert on World War II.  For years she has entertained and awed me with the stories and facts of that time in US history.  My Dad was stationed in the Pacific (Philippines).  This is such a complete museum and well displayed.  For a lot of the vignettes, Jeannie could add other facts.
     One of the things she taught me was that Japan had been planning their attack on Pearl Harbor since the late 1890’s and continued until December 7, 1941, a day declared by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as “a date that will live in infamy.”  It was then the president declared war on Japan.
         There is way too much for me to tell about here, but if you ever get to Fredericksburg, Texas, plan to spend a couple of days.  There is much to see and do. 
Until later,

1 comment:

  1. I am so jealous. I've read a lot about Admiral Nimitz and the war in the Pacific and I'd love to have seen the museum. Lucky you