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Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, was born and raised in Fredericksburg. Eighteen days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was catapulted over 28 other admirals and appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet. He would command 2.3 million men and women, 500 ships and 20,000 aircraft. This picture shows him with his grandfather after graduating from the Naval Academy in 1905.

Chester Nimitz — A Favorite Son Goes to War

As unlikely as it may seem, this small landlocked town in the middle of Texas is home to one of the nation’s preeminent WW II museums … the National Museum of the Pacific, Through state of the art exhibits, the museum not only pays tribute to Fredericksburg’s favorite son, Admiral Chester Nimitz , but tells the story of the Pacific War in a gripping and compelling manner. The exhibits are so large and overwhelming that the admission ticket wisely allows visitors two consecutive days to see it all … an offer we took full advantage of.

Admiral Nimitz’s grandfather was an early Fredericksburg pioneer who operated a successful saloon and gentrified hotel in the mid 1800’s. This majestic old hotel, with its iconic steamboat façade, has been restored and is now part of the Museum of the Pacific. Click here to see a vintage photo of a very young Admiral Nimitz in his grandfather’s saloon.

Some of the most famous photos of WW II are those taken at the signing of the Japanese surrender document … MacArthur signed the document for the Allies and Nimitz signed for the U.S.

A short walk from the main museum is the Pacific Combat Zone. Here, large artifacts are displayed to great effect. Sherry had an “ah-ha!” moment when she learned that the wings of the planes were designed to fold up in order to maximize storage under the flight deck of aircraft carriers.

PT 309 is the only fully restored PT boat actually used in WW II on public display. Since Patrol Torpedo boats were made of wood, most were destroyed after the war. A guide, authentically uniformed as a 1944 Marine, explained the use and operation of the PT boats to us and a group of 60 sixth graders. When the kids were asked which President commanded a PT boat during WW II, they did not know (Thomas Jefferson?) … we now understand why one of the stated missions of the museum is education.

An outdoor exhibit depicts a realistic Pacific Combat zone. It’s a sensory experience complete with sand, tropical vegetation, a Japanese pillbox reconstructed after the hundreds on Iwo Jima, artillery sound effects and WW II equipment and weapons. We left knowing a little more what troops in the Pacific faced on a day to day basis. Several times a year reenactments are presented including the use of a flame thrower … now that would be exciting to see.

The Pacific Combat Zone exhibit contains a full scale Quonset hut outfitted like a set out of the TV series MASH. As islands were taken … airfields and medical facilities were established as a priority.

This yellow bomb casing is the brother of Fat Man… the second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki Japan. This huge piece of ordnance was the third in the series of bombs … it would have been dropped had not the first two bombs done their jobs.

Adjacent to the Museum is the Japanese Garden of Peace … a Zen Garden given to the museum by the Japanese government as a tribute to the Nimitz Family.

After the war Nimitz behaved kindly toward the defeated Japanese, such as returning samurai swords to ancestral homes. He also started a fund to restore the flagship of Admiral Heihachiro Togo, a Japanese commander he greatly admired. The garden includes a replica of Admiral Togo’s study, built by the Japanese and reassembled in Fredericksburg.

In the Memorial walk, Danny found the commemorative plaque for the Destroyer his brother served on during the Vietnam War … the U.S.S. Mansfield ... also known as the "Fighting Jane" after the actress Jane Mansfield.

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A ship is always referred to as 'she' because it costs so much to keep one in paint and powder.

— Chester W. Nimitz —