An admiral unveiled

POWERFUL -- Gen. Michael Hagee (foreground) and other members of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation board took the cover off the 8-foot statue immortalizing Fredericksburg's native son. -- Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Richard Zowie —

Despite near-freezing temperatures, Fredericksburg residents and both local and state dignitaries gathered Friday, Feb. 7 at Nimitzplatz for the unveiling of a bronze statue of Adm. Chester W. Nimitz.

The eight-foot-tall statue of Fredericksburg’s native son faces west toward the Pacific Ocean to signify the admiral’s journey from the Texas Hill Country to the fleet admiral who oversaw America’s World War II victory over Japan in the Pacific theater.

The newly coined “Nimitzplatz” is an open area just west of the Admiral Nimitz Museum. The area was his grandmother’s garden, where he was often seen playing as a child.

Among the dignitaries who spoke were Fredericksburg Mayor Jeryl Hoover and U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith. State Rep. Doug Miller was unable to attend the weather-postponed event due to a prior commitment.

Capt. James Pfannestiel (U.S. Navy, ret.) gave the invocation while Dr. Craig Symonds, United States Naval Academy Professor Emeritus, served as keynote speaker.

Symonds told the crowd he considered Nimitz the Navy’s “best admiral” and described him as “a serious student of his profession” who had a thorough knowledge of naval personnel, weapons and world geography.

“He knew where all the Pacific Ocean islands were,” Symonds said.

Admiral Nimitz Foundation President and CEO Gen. Michael Hagee served as master of ceremonies. The retired U.S. Marine Corps commandant recalled a story where he wrote a letter to Adm. Nimitz asking him for advice getting into the Naval Academy.

The admiral responded, thanking the young Hagee for his letter and recommending he begin the process by contacting his congressmen and asking about appointments.

“The admiral didn’t promise anything he couldn’t do, and he told me what I needed to do,” said Hagee, who eventually attended and graduated from the academy and then served as the USMC’s 33rd commandant.

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