December 1941

US and World Events plus Additional Resources


On December 31, 1941 Admiral Nimitz took command of the Pacific fleet.

Chester W. Nimitz (1885-1966), a 1905 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was appointed chief of the Bureau of Navigation in 1939 and advised Franklin Roosevelt on the selection of officers for top navy posts. In early 1941 the president offered him command of the Pacific fleet, but he declined not wanting to jump over the heads of his seniors. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, FDR ordered him to take command, and he did so on the last day of 1941. In March 1944 Admiral Nimitz had a conference with the President and admirals Ernest J. King and William D. Leahy at the White House to discuss strategic decisions. The same group plus General Douglas MacArthur met in Hawaii that July. Nimitz was on board the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, where he signed the Japanese surrender documents as a representative of the United States.

Here Franklin D. Roosevelt, General MacArthur, Admiral Nimitz, and Admiral Leahy at FDR’s quarters in Waikiki, Hawaii. July 28, 1944.