Postal History Meets World War II Naval Admiral in Grandfather’s Collection

Return Envelope from Commander In Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet, and the Pacific Ocean Areas

A little postal history this morning along with some amazement. In looking through my Grandfather’s stamp collection and first-day cover collection, I found a group of autographed first-day covers. One group was from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

Admiral Nimitz was the Commander-In-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, and was responsible for the prosecution of the War in the Pacific against the Japanese. It was with his planning along with the execution by such US Naval greats, Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, Admiral Raymond Spruance, and others that helped the United States defeat Japan.

After the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese announced their intention to surrender on August 15, 1945, and Japan formally signed the instruments of surrender on September 2, 1945; ending World War II. Admiral Nimitz was on hand for the signing which took place onboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Nimitz, West Virginia First Day Cancellation

Meanwhile, a small unincorporated area in West Virginia was changing its name to Nimitz after the famed admiral. On September 10, 1945, the United States Post Office in Nimitz, West Virginia opened for business, and many envelopes canceled with the words – “First Day.” My Grandfather, Richard Cromlish, received several of these envelopes and on September 13, 1945, mailed one with an autograph request to Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. The letter and enclosed envelope were addressed to his headquarters at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and undoubtedly sent using either an 8 cent or 15 cents US Airmail stamp depending on the weight of the contents in the envelope. The distance from Belmont, North Carolina to Pearl Harbor Hawaii is 4,661 miles, and the letter was received at his headquarters by September 21, 1945, as that is the date on his response.

Letter from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to Author’s Grandfather

What is surprising is that the architect of victory in the Pacific would take time out of his busy schedule and reply to a request for an autograph on a seemingly frivolous piece of postal history. The response was gracious and affirmative and altogether surprising in today’s me culture. Admiral Nimitz’s stature in my eyes was raised significantly by his taking the time to respond.

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Autograph on Nimitz, West Virginia First Day Cover

This group of postal artifacts is just the tip of what I have found in my Grandfather’s collection, and I will write more about the other pieces because some are significant for their mailing dates.

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