The German American influence in the Texas Hill Country is pervasive. Unique customs, food, and music, having their roots in the 19th century German settlements, are still readily apparent today. But the German heritage also produced great men and women.
One man of German descent, who was to play a major role in World War II, was born and raised in the hill country town of Fredericksburg. Despite being reared well away from any ocean in the hills of South Central Texas, he would go on to lead a great naval armada to victory, and become this country’s first five-star, fleet admiral.
Chester Nimitz was born fatherless in 1885. His father had passed away prior to his birth. Given that fact, an important influence in his life was his grandfather, a former merchant seaman. Despite his attachment to the seafaring grandfather, the young Nimitz actually sought an appointment to West Point. Such was not to be the case; however, he was successful in getting an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, where he graduated in the top ten-percent of his class.
Sent to the waters off the Philippines, he was given command of a destroyer at the age of twenty-two. Perhaps his young age and naval inexperience caused the ship to run aground resulting in his court-martial. He recovered from this early career set back, and never looked back. The “rest is history” as they say, and he went on to serve on submarines and later, to lead the U.S. Navy to many great victories during the War in the Pacific, culminating with him being on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri, signing the document for the United States which ended the war.
Follwing the war, if he ever spent much time in the area which shaped his early life, the Texas Hill Country, I cannot say. After his many accomplishments during the tumultuous and dangerous times of the early to mid-1940’s, he lived on the West Coast of the United States.
He died in 1966 and is buried in California. His final resting place is near the Pacific Ocean, a body of water where he helped save the world from tyranny. But, the place where his character was molded, so important for this country later during troubled times, was the hill country town of Fredericksburg, Texas.