Kimmel file photo [775]

Husband Kimmel

Given NameHusband
Born26 Feb 1882
Died14 May 1968
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseHusband Edward Kimmel was born to a US Army major in Henderson, Kentucky, United States. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Maryland, United States in 1904 as an ordnance specialist, and subsequently served aboard several battleships and destroyers and held other shore posts. With his academic credentials earned at the Naval War College and his impressive career record, he was promoted to the flag rank of rear admiral in 1937 with such responsibilities as being the commander of Cruiser Division Seven on a diplomatic trip to South America, and the commander of Cruisers of Battle Force Fleet. His experience led to his appointment as the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, with a brevet rank of admiral. In this role, he was said to be a hard worker that inspired subordinates, but some had also criticized that his over-attention to detail betrayed his lack of self-confidence, thus always spending the time to revisit minute tasks he had done previous when he could have delegated the work to others in the first place.

ww2dbaseOn the opening chapter of the United States' involvement in the Pacific War, the location of his headquarters, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii was subjected to a Japanese raid, which killed over 3,000 and temporarily disabled his fleet. Kimmel, along with his US Army counterpart Lieutenant General Walter Short, was one of the principle scapegoats, and he was relieved from his command merely ten days after the raid and was reverted back to his permanent rank of rear admiral. He was subsequently found guilty of errors of judgement and dereliction of duty, and retired from the US Navy in 1942.

ww2dbaseIn retirement, Kimmel was hired by the military contractor Frederick R. Harris, Inc. He passed away at Groton, Connecticut, United States, in 1968, at the age of 86. It was not until after his death before the United States Senate cleared his name on 25 May 1999, although the Department of Defense would continue to place the blame of the Pearl Harbor disaster on Kimmel and Short. "(Kimmel and Short) were denied vital intelligence that was available in Washington", said Senator William Roth, Jr., noting that they had been made into scapegoats in 1941 to lift blame from other high ranking officers. The attack on Pearl Harbor faced nine investigations, the national attention was clearly unjustly weighted on this single event when, for example, the same unpreparedness for Japanese aggression was equally as great at the Philippine Islands. When President Franklin Roosevelt ordered Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts to head up the investigative commission, which was appropriately named the Robers Commission, many argue that Roosevelt had much political motivation in mind. By charging Kimmel and Short with failure to defend the important American military bases at the Territory of Hawaii, Roosevelt paved himself a path to take military action against Japanese aggression that he had long wished to intervene, and cleared himself of any faults of his own for his re-election campaign in 1944.

Elliot Carlson, Joe Rochefort's War
United States Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Last Major Revision: Jun 2005

Husband Kimmel Interactive Map


Portrait of Commander Husband Kimmel, Jun 1923Portrait of Captain Husband Kimmel, 1926-1937Rear Admiral Husband Kimmel, commanding officer of US Navy Cruiser Division Seven, probably on board his flagship USS San Francisco, circa 1939San Francisco in a South American port, with US Navy Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and a South American officer onboard for tours, 1939; note SOC-1 aircraft in hangar
See all 10 photographs of Husband Kimmel

Husband Kimmel Timeline

26 Feb 1882 Husband Kimmel was born.
2 Feb 1941 At Pearl Harbor, Rear Admiral Herbert Leary came aboard USS Honolulu as the new commander of Cruiser Division Nine relieving Admiral Husband Kimmel who, on the same morning, shifted to the USS Pennsylvania and assumed the duties of Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet.
18 Apr 1941 US Navy Admiral Husband Kimmel wrote a letter to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Harold Stark requesting additional resources for base construction at Wake Island and for a US Marine Corps defense battalion to be stationed there.
6 Dec 1941 Japanese carrier fleet reached the rendezvous point at 34 degrees north, 158 degrees west, and then began a high speed approach for Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii. At the same time, the 30 Japanese submarines in the Hawaii area began to tighten the ring around the islands; I-74 spotted USS Lexington, but no action was taken. At Pearl Harbor, Admiral Husband Kimmel told a reporter from the news agency Christian Science Monitor that the chance of a war in the Pacific Ocean involving the United States was slim. Nearby, Vice Admiral William Pye told Kimmel (via intelligence officer Edwin Layton) that war with Japan was inevitable, although Pearl Harbor was not a likely target, thus there was no need to send the battleships out to sea as a precaution. Finally, at Honolulu, Hawaii, Consul-General Nagao Kita sent a cable to Japan that he observed no barrage balloons over Pearl Harbor and he did not believe there were torpedo nets around the battleships.
16 Dec 1941 Vice Admiral William Pye replaced Admiral Husband Kimmel as the acting Commander-in-Chief of the USN Pacific Fleet; he would soon be relieved by the newly-appointed permanent Pacific Fleet chief Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz, who was already en route to Hawaii.
23 Jan 1942 The Roberts Commission found Husband Kimmel guilty of dereliction of duty for the Pearl Harbor disaster.
14 May 1968 Husband Kimmel passed away.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Danny House says:
5 May 2007 12:01:39 PM

Didnt Adm. Kimmel die in nineteen sixty-eight? You have ten yrs earlier. Can you check?
2. Danny House says:
5 May 2007 12:03:33 PM

Ok, have read further down, and you have 1968 in the body of your biog sketch, but note that at the top is the erroneous yr, 1958
3. Anonymous says:
9 Mar 2008 05:03:29 PM

4. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
9 Mar 2009 11:52:43 AM

Kimmel should have acted on his own, even if denied vital intel. He should have worked with the army and had forces on 24hr alert, had air patrols, he should have had a "gut feeling"
5. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
9 Mar 2009 12:11:53 PM

As a Military Commander he should have remembered the British raid on the Italian fleet at Taranto, Italy on 11/12 Nov. 1940, and that was in the enemies home waters. The aircraft used by the British were Fairey Swordfish with a maximum speed of 139mph and was obsolete at the start of WWII. Kimmel should have asked himself the question, could such an attack happen at pearl? his staff should have pointed this out, and provided Kimmel with information, and he should have taken action on his own!
6. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
23 Jan 2010 04:55:51 PM

How could they possibly be Japanese planes?

-Husband E. Kimmel-
7. Andrew says:
5 Sep 2011 12:03:42 AM

I've been studying about Pearl and the only reason Kimmel and Short were relieved was because if official Investigations.
8. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
1 Feb 2015 07:11:57 AM

Kimmel who had been promoted over thirty-two Admirals to his position as C-in-C Pacific Fleet was far from complacent. To counter a surprise attack by fast carrier based aircraft he had time and again pressed for a pool of 250 reconnaissance aircraft - but the Navy Department, seeing a more pressing need elsewhere, refused to supply them. Thus, when Halsey's carriers were absent on a mission, Kimmel was forced to keep his battleships anchored in Pearl Harbor for lack of air cover. In June 1941, the caustic Kentuckian Admiral, who saw Pearl Harbor as "a damned mousetrap" told President Roosevelt the unpalatable truth that: "if they sink one ship in the entrance of the harbour they have the whole fleet bottled up and it can't get out," he emphasised, "the only place for the fleet to be if the Japanese should attack is at sea, and not in port." Colonel Knox's Navy Department chose to ignore the advice of their Commander on the spot.
9. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
2 Feb 2015 05:03:36 PM

Kimmel was deprived key intelligence yet the lion’s share of the blame was laid on him. MacArthur in the Philippines was already on full alert and had 10 hours advance notice. How much better did he do than Kimmel? (NOT!) Yet he was exalted above all others, held sway over Nimitz throughout the war and became the virtual king of Japan after the surrender. The Navy brass started the war by harpooning Kimmel and ended the war by harpooning Charles Butler McVay – not a very honorable showing overall.

Kimmel may not have performed perfectly but he was a good sailor and deserved better. He deserves better from us too.
10. Anonymous says:
28 Oct 2015 11:25:49 AM

im doing history day on this
11. charles willimann says:
22 Mar 2017 06:32:38 PM

Gen Kimmel did his job. The Washington Navy screwed him. It would have been different if he had been properly informed. He tried. Washington failed.
12. Anonymous says:
18 Nov 2018 07:24:57 PM

He wrote a book when i was in high school A old man recommend I read it. I checked it out from the Library A few years later I could not find it anywhere its gone poof ! I don't remember the name it was about 52 years ago. The government does not want you to hear his side of the story. The boo was endorsed buy more than 100 officers. The short story is him and General short asked for things they did not get and if they had gotten them there would have been no pearl harbor we might want to consider these men Hero's because They took the hit for someone else. It was not their choice I am sad to see history will not know the truth except for a very few and fewer everyday.
13. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
19 Nov 2018 03:19:03 PM

Anonymous (above):
The book you are referring to is likely *Admiral Kimmel's Story* by Husband Kimmel (1955). I am not familiar with this book but I have ordered it and hope to get a review of it up on this site soon.
14. Paul Eddington says:
14 Jul 2020 12:29:29 PM

Maybe Kimmel was accurate when he stated that he was not made aware of all the crucial information about the coming attack at Pearl Harbor. But, as the person in charge of the installation, it was his business to have learned about everything that, in probability, would be affecting his command. Scapegoat? Possibly. But he brought it on himself.

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More on Husband Kimmel
Event(s) Participated:
» Attack on Pearl Harbor

Ship(s) Served:
» Honolulu

Related Books:
» Pearl; December 7, 1941

Husband Kimmel Photo Gallery
Portrait of Commander Husband Kimmel, Jun 1923
See all 10 photographs of Husband Kimmel

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