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First Name: Husband

Last Name: Kimmel

Birthplace: Henderson, KY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Edward

Date of Birth: 26 February 1882

Date of Death: 14 May 1968

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1904-1942
Husband Edward Kimmel

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1904

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Husband Edward Kimmel

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Husband Edward Kimmel was born on 26 February 1882 in Henderson, KY. His father, Major Manning Marius Kimmel (1832-1916), served in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

Kimmel graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1904. In his early years in the Navy, Kimmel served on several battleships, commanded two destroyer divisions, a destroyer squadron, and the USS New York (BB-34). He also held a number of important positions on flag staffs and in the Navy Department, and completed the senior course at the Naval War College.

After his promotion to Rear Admiral in 1937, he commanded Cruiser Division Seven on a diplomatic cruise to South America and then became Commander of Cruisers, Battle Force, in 1939.

Pearl Harbor

When Admiral James O. Richardson was removed as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet and Pacific Fleet in February 1941, Kimmel assumed command with the temporary rank of Admiral. The base for the fleet had been moved from its traditional home at San Diego, CA, to Pearl Harbor in May 1940. On 18 February 1941, Kimmel wrote to the Chief of Naval Operations:

"I feel that a surprise attack (submarine, air, or combined) on Pearl Harbor is a possibility, and we are taking immediate practical steps to minimize the damage inflicted and to ensure that the attacking force will pay."

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred on 7 December 1941. Edwin T. Layton (Combat Intelligence Officer on Kimmel's staff; he was in charge of all intelligence in the Pacific Ocean area) related that during the attack, "Kimmel stood by the window of his office at the submarine base, his jaw set in stony anguish. As he watched the disaster across the harbor unfold with terrible fury, a spent .50 caliber machine gun bullet crashed through the glass. It brushed the Admiral before it clanged to the floor. It cut his white jacket and raised a welt on his chest. 'It would have been merciful had it killed me,' Kimmel murmured to his communications officer, Commander Maurice 'Germany' Curts." In The World at War a naval serviceman, who had been situated alongside Admiral Kimmel during the attack, recalled that as Kimmel watched the destruction of the fleet, he tore off his four star shoulder boards and replaced them with those of a Rear Admiral, in apparent recognition of the impending end of his command of the Pacific Fleet.

Kimmel was relieved of his command in mid-December 1941, while he was in the midst of planning and executing retaliatory moves, including an effort to relieve and reinforce Wake Island which might have led to an early clash between American and Japanese carrier forces. He took an early retirement in 1942. He spent much of his time defending himself in front of various hearings, pointing out that all the key information which would have enabled him to anticipate the attack was never made available to him.

Some historians, such as submariner Captain Edward L. "Ned" Beach, later believed Admiral Kimmel and Army Lieutenant General Walter Short became scapegoats for the failures of their superiors prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and that their careers were effectively and unfairly ruined. Edwin T. Layton (later Rear Admiral Layton), Chief Intelligence Officer for Kimmel, and one of the officers who knew Kimmel best, provided support for Kimmel's position in his book, And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway-Breaking the Secrets (1985). Layton argued Kimmel had not been provided complete information, and that Kimmel had deployed the few reconnaissance resources at his disposal in the most logical way, given the available information.

On the other hand, Kimmel's critics point out that he had been ordered (on 27 November 1941, ten days prior to the attack) to initiate a "defensive deployment" of the fleet. Kimmel understood this to mean defense against sabotage, and so made the necessary arrangements. Because of this misinterpretation, ships were kept in port and the fleet was not placed on alert. Moreover, after his intelligence unit lost track of Japan's aircraft carriers, Kimmel did not order any long-range air or naval patrols to assess their positions, in part for lack of serviceable PBYs, and partly because he also had a training schedule to maintain. Another reason was that the Army Air Corps had the responsibility for long-range patrol (but even less capability in Hawaii than he did, since the Philippines had higher priority).

Even if Kimmel did react, it is not clear the results would have been any better for the Americans. In a 1964 interview, Admiral Chester Nimitz, who became Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet three weeks after the attack, concluded that "it was God's mercy that our fleet was in Pearl Harbor on December 7." If Admiral Husband Kimmel, the Commander in Hawaii, had "had advance notice that the Japanese were coming, he most probably would have tried to intercept them. With the difference in speed between Kimmel's battleships and the faster Japanese carriers, the former could not have come within rifle range of the enemy's flattops. As a result, we would have lost many ships in deep water and also thousands more in lives."' Instead, at Pearl Harbor, the crews were easily rescued, and six battleships ultimately raised. This was also the reaction of Joseph Rochefort, head of HYPO, when he remarked the attack was cheap at the price.

Robert Stinnett, in his book Day of Deceit (2001), claims Kimmel was deliberately kept ignorant, at least indirectly, on the specific orders of FDR because the President and others were aware not only of Japan's intent to attack Pearl Harbor, but also of the date and time. Kimmel, Stinnett argues, was given deceptive orders. In fact, Kimmel was denied access to MAGIC for security reasons, and worked poorly with his Army counterpart, General Walter Short, who had responsibility for defending the fleet. Stinnett argues Admiral Kimmel and General Short were scapegoated to cover up deliberately allowing the Japanese to strike in order to arouse American public opinion.

After Pearl Harbor

Rear Admiral Kimmel's son, Manning, died when the submarine he commanded (USS Robalo (SS-273)) was mined near Palawan in July 1944.


In 1994, Kimmel's family, including his grandson, South Carolina broadcaster Manning Kimmel IV, attempted to have Kimmel's four star rank re-instated. President Bill Clinton turned down the request, as had Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. A 1995 Pentagon study concluded there were other high-ranking officers responsible for the failure at Pearl Harbor, but did not exonerate him.

On 25 May 1999, the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 52-47, passed a non-binding resolution exonerating Kimmel and Short, and asking President Clinton to posthumously promote Kimmel, and others, to full Admiral. Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC), one of the sponsors of the resolution, called Kimmel and Short "the two final victims of Pearl Harbor." However, neither Presidents Clinton nor Bush undertook to do so. It is unknown if President Obama will re-examine the Kimmel request.

In Retirement

Kimmel worked for Frederic R. Harris, Inc. after his retirement from the Navy.


In the 1965 film In Harm's Way, Kimmel was portrayed as a victim of unfortunate circumstance by actor Franchot Tone. In the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!, actor Martin Balsam depicted Kimmel positively as a commander who operated competently considering the inadequate communication of intelligence and the errors of subordinates. Canadian actor Colm Feore portrayed him in the 2001 movie, Pearl Harbor.


Husband was married to Dorothy Kinkaid, sister of Thomas C. Kinkaid, with whom he had two sons, Manning and Thomas.

Death and Burial

Admiral Husband Edward Kimmel died on 14 May 1968 at Groton, CT. He is buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, MD.

Honoree ID: 578   Created by: MHOH




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