Nimitz, Chester W., Fleet Adm., USN

(1885–1966)

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz looms large in the story of the U.S. Navy in World War II. He passed away in 1966 — sadly, just three years before the launching of the U.S. Naval Institute Oral History Program. Having missed the opportunity to secure the oral history of this giant of naval history, the Institute did the next best thing: gathered and compiled the oral histories of numerous officers, loved ones, friends, and family who had been on close terms with Nimitz. The multiple volumes in this series are an exhaustive resource — and a crucial one to any Nimitz student, scholar, or biographer.

Transcripts of this oral history are available in many formats including bound volumes, and digital copies.

Order Oral History

Catherine Freeman Nimitz (Mrs. Chester Nimitz) (1892–1979)

Based on two interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr., in June 1969 and one interview conducted by E. B. Potter in March 1970. The volume contains 170 pages of interview transcript plus indices. The transcript is copyright 1970 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewees have placed no restrictions on its use.

Miss Anna Elizabeth (Nancy) Nimitz (1919–2004) and Mrs. Chester W. Nimitz (1892–1979)

Based on two interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr. Altogether, the volume contains 119 pages of interview transcript plus indices. The transcripts are copyright 1970 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewees have placed no restrictions on their use.

    Members of his immediate family

    Represented in this volume are:

    • Nimitz, Rear Admiral Chester W. Jr. (Chet), USN (Ret.) (1915–2002), and his wife Joan (1912-2002); Nimitz's son and daughter-in-law, interviewed in April 1969; 65 pages

    • Lay, Catherine Nimitz (1914–2015), and her husband, Capt. James T. Lay Sr. (Jim), USN (Ret.) (1909–2001); Nimitz's daughter and son-in-law; interviewed in February 1970; 123 pages

    • Nimitz, Sister M. Aquinas, O.P. (1931–2006); Nimitz's daughter, interviewed in June 1969; 42 pages

    Based on three interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr. Altogether, the volume contains 229 pages of interview transcript plus indices. The transcripts are copyright 1970 by the U. S. Naval Institute; the interviewees have placed no restrictions on their use.

    Various relatives and friends

    This volume contains transcripts of a number of tape recorded interviews dealing with the late Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. The first one in the series was given by Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey, USN (Ret.), who served as Aide to Admiral Nimitz during 1946-48. Fluckey came to know the Admiral not only as a great Naval commander but also as a very human and compassionate man.

    Eight of the interviews included in this volume were given by relatives. These people were interviewed by Professor E. B. Potter, the author of the Nimitz Biography.These recordings were obtained by Potter during a trip he made in March, 1970 to the birthplace of the Admiral in Fredericksburg, Texas.

    Represented in the volume are:

    • Fluckey, Rear Adm.  Eugene B. (1913–2007); submarine skipper and later Nimitz's aide; interviewed by Mason in October 1971; 29 pages

    • Caldwell, Mr. J. Emott (1916–2000); naval aviator who served as Nimitz's pilot; interviewed by Kitchen in January 1970; 52 pages

    • Gros, Mr. Robert R. (1914–1997); journalist who interviewed CNO Nimitz after World War II about Pacific Trust Territories; interviewed by Kitchen in July 1970; 34 pages

    • Sutro, Mr. John A. (1905–1994); Navy League official involved in Nimitz's 75th birthday celebration; interviewed by Kitchen in July 1970; 20 pages

    • Toepperwein, Mr. Herman T. (1907–1976); Texas relative; interviewed by Potter in March 1970; 18 pages

    • Reinbach, Mr. Max O. Sr. (1905–1997); Texas relative; interviewed by Potter in March 1970; 16 pages

    • Kiehne, Elise (Mrs. Charles) (18831976); last surviving aunt; interviewed by Potter in March 1970; 10 pages

    • Durst, Sylvia (Mrs. Milton) (19041972) and Mr. Guenther Henke (1893–1980); Texas relatives; interviewed by Potter in March 1970; 24 pages

    • Schreiner, Mr. Louis (1870–1970); Texas relative; interviewed by Potter in March 1970; 8 pages

    • Reagan, Mrs. Dora Nimitz (18951982); Texas relative; interviewed by Potter in March 1970; 20 pages

    • Leavell, Mr. John (1883–1971); boyhood friend in Texas; interviewed by Potter in March 1970; 17 pages

    Based on 12 interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr. , Etta-Belle Kitchen, and Paul Hopper. Altogether, the volume contains 333 pages of interview transcript plus indices. The transcripts are copyright by the U. S. Naval Institute; the interviewees have placed no restrictions on their use.

    Various Naval Officers

    All of these men were interviewed for the oral history project of the U.S. Naval Institute dealing with the life and career of the late Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimiz, USN.

    • Drake, Rear Adm. William Waldo (Waldo), USNR (Ret.) (1897–1977); Pacific Fleet public relations officer during much of World War II; interviewed by Mason in June 1970; 60 pages

    • Fife, Admiral James Jr., USN (Ret.) (1897–1975); a long-time submarine officer who commanded in Australia during the war; interviewed by Mason in May 1969; 35 pages

    • Lamar, Capt. H. Arthur, USNR (Ret.) (1911–2002); Nimitz's aide and flag lieutenant before the war and throughout its progress; interviewed by Mason in June 1970; 103 pages

    • Layton, Rear Adm. Edwin T., USNR (Ret.) (1903–1984); Pacific Fleet intelligence officer throughout the war; interviewed by Potter in March 1970; 116 pages

    Based on four interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr. , and E. B. Potter. Altogether, the volume contains 314 pages of interview transcript plus indices. The transcripts are copyright 1972 by the U. S. Naval Institute; the interviewees have placed no restrictions on their use.

    Various Naval Officers

    This volume contains some recollections of the late Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and were given by the following naval officers who served with him at various times during his active career. Most of them continued as personal friends for the balance of the Admiral's life.

    Represented in this volume are:

    • Bruton, Rear Adm. Henry Chester, USN (Ret.) (1905–1992), administrative aide to Chief of Naval Operations Nimitz after World War II; interviewed in June 1969; 27 pages

    • Leverton, Rear Adm. J. Wilson Jr., USN (Ret.) (1909–1987), junior officer in the cruiser USS Augusta (CA-31) in the 1930s; interviewed in August 1969; 62 pages

    • Moncure, Capt. Samuel P., USN (Ret.) (1909–1978), junior officer in the cruiser USS Augusta (CA-31) in the 1930s; interviewed in July 1969; 41 pages

    • Mustin, Vice Adm. Lloyd M., USN (Ret.) (1911–1999), junior officer in the cruiser USS Augusta (CA-31) in the 1930s; interviewed in March 1970; 76 pages

    • Waters, Rear Adm. Odale D. Jr., USN (Ret.) (1910–1986), junior officer in the cruiser USS Augusta (CA-31) in the 1930s; interviewed in July 1969; 20 pages

    • Whiting, Vice Adm. F. E. M., USN (Ret.) (1891–1978), first lieutenant and executive officer in the cruiser USS Augusta (CA-31) in the 1930s; interviewed in September 1969; 25 pages

    Based on 12 interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr. , Etta-Belle Kitchen, and E. B. Potter. Altogether, the volume contains 248 pages of interview transcript. The transcripts are copyright 1972 by the U. S. Naval Institute; the interviewees have placed no restrictions on their use.

    Various Naval Officers and friends

    Represented in this volume are:

    • Anderson, Rear Adm. Thomas C., MC, USN (Ret.) (1886–1975); Pacific Fleet medical officer, 1943-45; interviewed by Kitchen in July 1969; 44 pages

    • Archer, Mr. James W. (1909–1981); member of the NROTC unit at University of California in the 1920s; interviewed by Kitchen in August 1969; 44 pages

    • Brewer, Mr. Edward V. Jr. (1919–2001) and Mrs. Marjorie Brewer (1921–2014) ; neighbors of the Nimitzes in California after World War II; interviewed by Kitchen in January 1970; 58 pages

    • Cozard, Mr. George E. (1921–1989); Marine Corps driver for Nimitz during his time as Chief of Naval Operations; interviewed by Kitchen in January 1970; 66 pages

    • Cuttle, Capt. Tracy D., MC, USN (1909–2000); member of the NROTC unit at University of California in the 1920s; interviewed by Mason in August 1969; 16 pages

    • Fox, The Hon. Charles M. Jr. (1909–1985); communication officer on the Third Fleet staff in October 1944; interviewed by Potter in March 1970; 8 pages

    • Perkins, Capt. George S., USNR (Ret.) (1903–1977); Naval Reserve officer commissioned by Nimitz in 1926; interviewed by Kitchen in December 1969; 18 pages

    • Quynn, Rear Adm.  Allen G., USN (Ret.) (1894–1971); member of Pacific Fleet Service Force staff in World War II; interviewed by Mason in December 1969; 50 pages

    • Redman, Vice Adm. John R. (Jack), USN (Ret.) (1898–1970); Pacific Fleet communication officer in World War II; interviewed by Mason in June 1969; 55 pages

    Based on nine interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr. , E. B. Potter, and Etta-Belle Kitchen. Altogether, the volume contains 359 pages of interview transcript plus indices. The transcripts are copyright by the U. S. Naval Institute; the interviewees have placed no restrictions on their use.

    Various Naval Officers and friends

    Represented in this volume are:

    • Bassett, Capt. James Jr., USNR (1912–1978); Pacific Fleet public relations officer in 1941-42; interviewed by Kitchen in May 1969; 32 pages 

    • Bauernschmidt, Rear Adm. George W., SC, USN (Ret.) (1899–1998); neighbor of the Nimitzes in the 1920s; interviewed by Mason in August 1969; 25 pages

    • Callaghan, Vice Adm. William M., USN (Ret.) (1897–1991); member of Pacific Fleet war plans staff in World War II; interviewed by Mason in June 1969; 25 pages

    • Chase, Mr. H. Joseph (1908–1976); member of the NROTC unit at University of California in the 1920s; interviewed by Kitchen in October 1969; 33 pages

    • Court, Captain Alvah B., USN (Ret.) (1883–1976); Naval Academy classmate; interviewed by Mason in May 1969; 19 pages

    • Curts, Adm. Maurice E., USN (Ret.) (1898–1976); Pacific Fleet communication officer in World War II; interviewed by Hopper in June 1969; 17 pages

    • Lattu, Rear Adm. Onnie P., USNR (Ret.) (1906–1995); member of the NROTC unit at University of California in the 1920s; interviewed by Mason in July 1969; 20 pages

    • Mercer, Rear Adm. Preston V., USN (Ret.) (1901–1970); flag secretary to Nimitz in the late 1930s and during World War II; interviewed by Mason in July 1969; 53 pages

    • Peterson, Rear Adm. Mell A., USN (Ret.) (1908–1970): Pacific Fleet assistant gunnery officer in World War II; interviewed by Kitchen in May 1969; 33 pages

    • Plank, Capt. David P. W., CHC, USN (1927–); chaplain at Yerba Buena Island, near San Francisco, in the mid-1960s; interviewed by Mason in July 1969; 21 pages

    • Wheeler, Mr. Joseph Jr. (1906–1987) and Mrs. Alice (1907–1987); neighbors of the Nimitzes on Long Island in the late 1940s; interviewed by Mason in August 1969; 20 pages

    Based on six interviews conducted by John T. Mason, Jr. Altogether, the volume contains 251 pages of interview transcript plus indices. The transcripts are copyright by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewees have placed no restrictions on their use.