The Celebrated Navy Admiral on “Your interest in furthering the preparation for national defense”

Signed by Chester Nimitz

$325
Item: 20843
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NIMITZ, CHESTER. (1885-1966). American admiral and commander of Pacific forces during World War II. TLS. (“C. W. Nimitz”). 1p. 4to. Washington, D.C., October 10, 1940. On Bureau of Navigation letterhead. To medical doctor and author DAVID POLOWE (?-?).

Your letter of September 27, to Admiral Gygax, relative to a course in navigation at Columbia University, has been referred to this Bureau for reply.

The Bureau of Navigation is employing only officers of the regular Navy, active and retired, as instructors in Naval R.O.T.C. Units at colleges and universities, and only gives credit for successful completion of a course in navigation to their Naval R.O.T.C. students when such a course is taken as part of the regular training in an established N.R.O.T.C. Unit. This Bureau, however, has no objection to your conducting a course in navigation, as a civilian, in any manner you desire.

In this connection, a student who has taken a course in navigation, such as you propose to conduct, should be outstanding among his contemporaries if he at some later time enters the Reserve in such capacity as Midshipman in a school similar to the one now being conducted in the U.S.S. Illinois, if the Navy later on extends this particular training or a similar one. Also, any students who have taken your course in navigation should find it a great help if they should join the Army or Navy Reserve Air Corps.

I am sorry my answer cannot be more encouraging, and I assure you that your interest in furthering the preparation for national defense is greatly appreciated. Sincerely yours…”

U.S. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Educated at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Nimitz served in the Far East, supervised the rigging of numerous naval vessels and commanded submarine fleets. During World War I, he earned recognition for his innovative underway refueling of ships in the Atlantic. In 1926, he established the Navy’s first Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of California Berkeley, and in 1939, he took command of the Bureau of Navigation (the future Bureau of Naval Personnel) and continued improving the underway refueling of large ships which became an important asset during World War II.

Following the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that precipitated America’s entry into World War II, U.S. forces fought in the air, land and sea, engaging Japanese vessels at Guadalcanal, the Battle of Tarawa and the Battle of Leyte Gulf, to name but a few. Fleet Admiral Nimitz shared command of the Pacific forces with Douglas MacArthur and was charged with leading the United States Pacific Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces in Pacific Ocean Areas. He is credited with the American victories at the Battles of the Coral Sea, Midway, the Solomon Islands, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. Despite heavy losses, Japan refused to surrender until atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. On September 2, 1945, Nimitz accepted Japan’s surrender on board the battleship, Missouri. In recognition of his wartime leadership, October 5, 1945 was declared Nimitz Day, when he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

Admiral Felix Xerxes Gygax (1884-1977) graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1906. His distinguished military career includes serving as a naval attaché in Bern, Switzerland; first officer in charge of the submarine school in New London, Connecticut; helping establish the submarine base at Pearl Harbor, and heading the Norfolk Naval Yard. At the time of our letter he was a professor of naval science and tactics at the University of California, Berkeley.

The U.S.S. Illinois was a decommissioned battleship assigned to the New York Naval Reserve for training; in 1941, it was renamed Prairie State so that the name Illinois could be used for a new battleship.

Polowe was author of The Home Book of Medicine (1938), Navigation for Mariners and Aviators (1942) and The Adventures of Jimmy Martin, Stowaway (1946) as well as a number of articles on medical subjects. The 1920-1921 Columbia University course catalogue describes a university extension course Polowe offered called “Navigation and Piloting,” taught at Columbia’s Wilde Astronomical Observatory.

Folded with a minor paperclip impression in the upper left corner, a small stain in the right blank margin and a purple ink date stamp in the upper quadrant; in overall fine condition.

The Celebrated Navy Admiral on “Your interest in furthering the preparation for national defense”

Signed by Chester Nimitz

$325 • item #20843


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