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PEARL HARBOR - A nine-foot bronze statue on a black granite pedestal honoring Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who directed the War of the Pacific, was unveiled at its permanent installation next to the battleship USS Missouri 'Mighty Mo' (BB-63) Memorial Sept. 2 on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The statue unveiling was part of the End of World War II commemoration ceremony that marked the 68th anniversary of the signing of the Instruments of Surrender. The statue depicts Nimitz as he appeared at the battle of the Marshall Islands in 1944; Nimitz at that time commanded the largest ocean area and most ships of any single commander in history.
"Despite the inevitable force reduction that follows every major conflict, he made sure that the Navy he led maintained a continuous presence in the Pacific in order to promote security and stability in the region," keynote speaker Adm. Cecil Haney, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said of Nimitz, who became chief of naval operations following the war. "This may be his most enduring legacy. Our presence in the West Pacific since the 1940s has helped most of these nations grow and their economies thrive."
"The ceremony onboard the Missouri 68 years ago was as much about ending the war as starting a new and lasting spirit of friendship between Japan and the U.S. that continues today," said Michael Carr, president of the Battleship Missouri Memorial. "The roots for our enduring friendship began that day." The Nimitz statue is permanently installed facing toward the USS Arizona Memorial, which together with the Battleship Missouri Memorial represent the beginning and end of U.S. involvement in World War II.
"We are struck by the symbolism of it being next to the Arizona," said retired U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Lilly. "War's end- war's beginning, with hoards of history between the two, it's so appropriate that it's the only place."
Several hundred attendees at the event included service members from all branches of service, civilians and veterans. Some of the attendees included relatives of Fleet Adm. Nimitz.
"This is the anniversary of the signing of the surrender of Japan, Sept. 2, 1945 and here on the battleship Missouri," said Mr. Chester Nimitz Lay, grandson of Fleet Adm. Nimitz. "I think we're honoring not just our grandfather but all the veterans who fought and died in World War II."
"It was a very emotional day for everybody of course and I'm very privileged and honored to be here amongst the World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors," said Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. "They are the living monuments that we get to be around and it's a rare privilege for everybody to be gathered in one setting like this with the mighty Missouri behind us and now the fantastic statue of Chester Nimitz that Mr. Rick Caswell so beautifully built for us, this is a great honor."
Sculptor Rip Caswell was on hand with his son who together conducted the official unveiling.
"I'm really thankful for the U.S. Naval Order to have been chosen to do this project and the opportunity to give back to those who have served our country," said Caswell. "In my small way that I could serve and give back with my talents and passion."