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A 9-foot bronze statue of Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz was unveiled Monday next to the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii — 68 years to the day Nimitz signed Japan’s surrender document aboard “Mighty Mo” as the U.S. representative.
The Naval Order of the United States commissioned the statue, which stands on a black granite pedestal and cost $100,000, covered by donations. The 600 pounds of bronze were sculpted by Rip Caswell, an Oregon-based artist. The statue left Oregon for Hawaii about a month ago.
Hundreds of people attended the unveiling, according to a Navy news release, including representatives of all military services and members of Nimitz’ family.
It’s an appropriate place for a tribute, and not just because of the Missouri’s role in Nimitz’ legacy, keynote speaker Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of Pacific Fleet, said in his address.
“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,” Haney said, according to the release. “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.”
Plans for the statue had been in motion for about four years, according to the Naval Order. It took Caswell a little more than a year to sculpt it; he studied more than 2,500 photographs of Nimitz and visited the fleet admiral’s hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas.
The result: The statue is so realistic that half the ring finger on the left hand is missing; part of Nimitz’s finger was severed in an accident with a diesel engine as a young officer. The detail is often omitted from official portraits, said retired Rear Adm. Douglas Moore, the commander general of the order.
“He got his hand stuck in a gear and it took off his finger. His Naval Academy ring stopped it from taking the whole hand off,” Moore said.
Jacqueline Klimas contributed to this report.