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yamiyugikun
06-12-2009, 01:32 AM
In an anthology on U.S. naval history I have been reading, one of Admiral Nimitz's commanders said that "leadership is the soul of all human endeavor." It is the flame that keeps men in trying times never to give up, no matter how dire the circumstances, sadness and deathness. That flame of leadership, I believe, is founded on faith, not in one's warships or equipment but the very human beings in uniform a commander serves with. I believe, in trying to understand and know who Admiral Nimitz is, that his spirit was genuinely connected to that of his men, in forming a brotherhood, based on faith in fellow human beings.


Faith in another person, I believe that is what Lord Horatio Nelson had in forming his band of brothers. Like Lord Nelson, Admiral Nimitz forged one of the strongest bands of fighting men in history. In the beginning of another book I read, in which Admiral Nimitz wrote the preface, he had in the very beginning of the book the Lord's Prayer, asking the Almighty to protect the nation's ships at sea. Except that instead of "Great Britain," Nimitz replaced it with "United States of America."

To go back to a prayer used since seafaring days in Elizabethean England, tells me that Admiral Nimitz truly knew the perils of the sea, yet at the time time, hope and optimism, having faith in one's fellow man. The faith that Admiral Nimitz had during World War II, at the Battle of Midway, we must rekindle within our hearts and not give up, may be what Admiral Mullen called the "Miracle of Midway" when referring to its brave men.

As an American, a civilian, I am trying to discover the source of Admiral Nimitz's strength, so that when I graduate, in whatever career I persue, I might bring some positive change to the world around me. I didn't mean to "deify" Admiral Nimitz, but reading the biography of him by E.B. Potter, I can't help but admire him.

Steve Blair
06-12-2009, 02:21 PM
I think as you read more, you'll find that this trait isn't limited to Nimitz. Most successful military leaders (and one could argue successful leaders in any occupation) share these traits. They don't, however, all show them in the same way. I could bore you to tears with a number of examples, but instead I'd just suggest that you read up on some other military commanders and see how they compare (or don't) to Nimitz. It can also be interesting to look at how promising and skilled leaders later fail or come apart at the seams as one aspect of their character overcomes their better gifts (Nelson Miles is an example of this, and one could argue that MacArthur is a great study of a character flaw overcoming a person).

yamiyugikun
06-12-2009, 09:01 PM
What are some other examples of leaders overcoming character flaws? I'm very curious. From what I read briefly on MacArthur, he was the opposite of Nimitz in every way, showy and outspoken. Who else do you recommend I read up on? I'm somewhat familiar with Patton. What about military leaders now on active duty?

Steve Blair
06-12-2009, 09:17 PM
Patton is a good example, and one (IMO) well worth reading up on. Nelson Miles is a good example of a good leader (initially) who was eventually overcome by his own weaknesses. Spruance repays study, as does Ernie King (volcanic temper and all). I'm not a huge fan of Eisenhower, although he's an interesting study in the political aspects of leadership and command. Grant is a good study as well. As for more modern leaders, Mattis is worth a long look.

I'm sure others here will have ideas and suggestions as well. Many of the leaders I study come from the Frontier Army, which is a pretty specialized (and obscure) field.

Sherwin
06-12-2009, 09:52 PM
My father-in-law fought on Peleliu in WWII. He was in the First Marine Division under Nimitz. He told the story that General Douglas McArthur wanted the marines to help in Iwo Jima but that Nimitz said he couldn't spare them because he needed them to take Peleliu.

Peleliu was a fortified rock of an island that the Japs had owned for many years. It was of small use to the Allies because of it's loction, but Nimitz sent the marines into hell just to keep them from McArthur. The casualties were terrible and pilots reported that you could smell the corpses while you were flying in. The marines fought for a month with no hot food and no chance to clean up. The temperature was around 115F (46C), and the Marines soon suffered high casualties from heat exhaustion

That is leadership? (If this is wrong, I hope someone will set me straight.)

Ken White
06-12-2009, 11:53 PM
It's pretty close to right. (LINK) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Peleliu).

Peleliu was unnecessary but it was an objective for both MacArthur and Nimitz. MacArthur wanted Nimitz (in whose area the Island was located) to take Peleiliu so the Japaneses could not use aircraft from there to disrupt MacArthur's attack on the Philippines. That was later proven unnecessary mostly due to many more Carriers and aircraft being available than had been projected -- allowing the Marines to sing "With the grace of god and few Marines, MacArthur took the Philippines" as a lot of those extra aircraft were flown by Marines. Those Carriers could have stopped any attack from Palau but that was not known at the time.

Here's a fairly good book on the Island and battle; Peleliu, Tragic Triumph. (http://www.amazon.com/Peleliu-Tragic-Triumph-Pacific-Forgotten/dp/0394565886) Most Libraries will have it.

I've heard a lot of Peleliu stories but never before have heard Nimitz blamed for it. There were a lot of mistakes but none of them really can be attributed to Nimitz.

All things considered, both MacArthur and Nimitz did a good job in the Pacific. Both did more good than bad but every combat commander is going to have some errors, that's unavoidable in war. Nimitz was easily the better of the two but he had to work with MacArthur by order of FDR. That's life in these United States. MacArthur in later years was another story while Nimitz remained a decent human being and a good leader.

Neither Peleliu or MacArthur had anything to do with Iwo Jima.

If there's a good guy in the Peleliu tale, it's probably Halsey who said long beforehand that it was unnecessary. If there's a bad guy, it was probably Rupertus, the 1st MarDiv commander. Among several other bad errors, including a staff that inadequately prepped him for the mission, he made the mistake of thinking the fight would be easy as had been the Division's previous battle at Cape Gloucester (another wasted battle and that one purely MacArthur's baby). Can't ignore METT-T.

Peleliu was not a good fight or a good place for one. Yet, the folks that fought there did their best under bad circumstances. Wars are often like that.

jmm99
06-13-2009, 02:15 AM
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa (http://www.amazon.com/Old-Breed-At-Peleliu-Okinawa/dp/0195067142) (by Eugene B. Sledge, PhD when he wrote the book; PFC when he experienced the events) is one great book. His summary of the Why for Peleliu is basically the same as Ken's.

Foxhole perceptions will differ about top brass. My grocery store boss in high school was a Tech Sgt in So Pac under MacArthur's command. His most printable name for him was "Dugout Doug".

stanleywinthrop
06-13-2009, 02:20 PM
An alternate history of this event is as follows:

Initially Palau was needed to protect Macarthur's flank as he invaded Mindanao. However, after Halsey discovered that the defenses on Luzon were much weaker than expected he recommended to Macarthur that they skip Mindanao, and Macarthur agreed. This made Palau irrelevant, and Macarthur recommended to Nimitz that it not be taken. However this all transpired within days of the invasion, and Nimitz, or his staff, or both, decided it was a "round down range" and permitted the invasion to proceed.

Source: William Manchester, American Ceaser, see also Manchester, Goodbye Darkness

I've heard various versions of the blame Macarthur or blame Nimitz story from other sources as well.

Ken White
06-13-2009, 05:54 PM
(among others). Having served under MacArthur's command in Korea, I am not an apologist for him.

A lot of journalists seem to get confused when they turn to history...

That said, we don't really know for sure what transpired because even the real Historians and the records do not agree. However, as I said: ""Peleliu was unnecessary but it was an objective for both MacArthur and Nimitz...Nimitz (in whose area the Island was located)...If there's a bad guy, it was probably Rupertus, the 1st MarDiv commander...Peleliu was not a good fight or a good place for one. Yet, the folks that fought there did their best under bad circumstances. Wars are often like that.""

William F. Owen
06-13-2009, 06:25 PM
If you want some outstanding Commonwealth soldiers, who were first class planners as well as leaders, I suggest studying,

John Monash (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Monash)
William Slim (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Slim,_1st_Viscount_Slim)
Edmund Allenby (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Allenby,_1st_Viscount_Allenby)

Ken White
06-13-2009, 07:36 PM
And I'm a disciple of and proselyter for the center named. :D

Notably on the precept that a well trained Infantry Battalion can do most all missions except deep reconnaissance and surveillance... ;)

Steve Blair
06-16-2009, 01:42 PM
(among others). Having served under MacArthur's command in Korea, I am not an apologist for him.

A lot of journalists seem to get confused when they turn to history...

That said, we don't really know for sure what transpired because even the real Historians and the records do not agree. However, as I said: ""Peleliu was unnecessary but it was an objective for both MacArthur and Nimitz...Nimitz (in whose area the Island was located)...If there's a bad guy, it was probably Rupertus, the 1st MarDiv commander...Peleliu was not a good fight or a good place for one. Yet, the folks that fought there did their best under bad circumstances. Wars are often like that.""

No probably about Rupertus...he botched a number of things leading up to the invasion as well as the eventual conduct of the fight. I've done a fair amount of research into Operation Stalemate and its various permutations, and there's not a lot of credit to be found once you leave the assistant division commander level of the First Marine Division. I've seen nothing outside of the Macarthur apologists that suggests that he wanted the operation canceled, and if he did it would have been so he could regain control of the First Marine Division.

George L. Singleton
06-17-2009, 01:08 AM
Admirals Nimitz, Halsey, Spruance, all of them and may others of all ranks in the Navy, Army, and Marines were great American heros of the best thought process existing at that time to help save our modern world.

QUESTION: Can anyone tell me who both the Navy and Army air commanders were in the Philippines from 1945-1947 during what some historians refer to as the "roll up of US air operations in the Philippines" before the Philippines then became a stand alone new free nation?

Thanks.

yamiyugikun
06-19-2009, 11:33 PM
Sherwin, I'm sorry to hear about your father-in-law. I will look up the Commonwealth soldiers...

Steve Blair
06-22-2009, 01:52 PM
My father-in-law fought on Peleliu in WWII. He was in the First Marine Division under Nimitz. He told the story that General Douglas McArthur wanted the marines to help in Iwo Jima but that Nimitz said he couldn't spare them because he needed them to take Peleliu.

Peleliu was a fortified rock of an island that the Japs had owned for many years. It was of small use to the Allies because of it's loction, but Nimitz sent the marines into hell just to keep them from McArthur. The casualties were terrible and pilots reported that you could smell the corpses while you were flying in. The marines fought for a month with no hot food and no chance to clean up. The temperature was around 115F (46C), and the Marines soon suffered high casualties from heat exhaustion

That is leadership? (If this is wrong, I hope someone will set me straight.)

It would have been the Philippines and not Iwo Jima...and MacArthur had been wanting to hold onto the First Marine Division ever since their New Britain campaign (which was also poorly supported, but on MacArthur's watch).

The defects on Peleliu were not directly attributable to Nimitz. It was the division commander who failed his Marines in that campaign, and did so from the very end of the New Britain operation. Rupertus was the one who resisted committing Army troops to the fight, who kept his men in the line longer than they should have been, and failed to oversee the preparations for the invasion itself (which included going ashore with about half the tanks the First Marine Division normally had...and tanks would have been quite useful in many areas of Peleliu).