Bronze statue commissioned of Henderson, Kentucky native son, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, to honor his service to the nation and to the United States Navy.
Husband E. Kimmel was born February 26, 1882, in Henderson, Kentucky. He lived with his parents and six siblings, three brothers and three sisters. The family home was located at 512 North Green Street in a big rambling farm house. State Historical Marker #878 in Henderson County marks the site of the home for three generations of the Kimmel family and notes their military achievements.
The Henderson County War Memorial Foundation refurbished the marker a couple of years ago. It stands in very close proximity to where the house stood which was 200 feet off of the street. Husband was raised in this home, went through school, and graduated from Henderson High School as Valedictorian of his class at age 16 years.
He attended college at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, for one year until he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1900, and from which he graduated with honors in 1904. Kimmel was the son of an Army Major, Manning Marius Kimmel, who actually fought in the Civil War for both the Union and the Confederacy.
Kimmel commanded several ships and served on the staffs of a number of prominent naval commanders, including service in World War I and service during troubles with Mexico. He was wounded by shrapnel from fire from rebels off the coast of Mexico. In January, 1941, he was selected for the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet and Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Fleet, which posts he held at the time of the surprise attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
In the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Husband Kimmel was relieved of command of the United States Pacific Fleet and forced into retirement. Eight official investigations were conducted to determine his accountability for the attack Though he was never brought to court-martial, accusations of dereliction of duty damaged his reputation considerably.
Ultimately, he was one of only two World War Two flag officers not to be retired at the highest rank held during the war; the other was Lieutenant General Walter Short, the Army’s Hawaiian commander at the time of the attack. In contrast, only nine hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, General Douglas MacArthur suffered a similar crushing surprise defeat in the Philippines despite his knowledge that the Japanese had initiated hostilities. Yet, he became a national war hero. The differing treatment accorded Admiral Kimmel compared to General MacArthur stands as a lesson on biased judgment.
Admiral Kimmel, until his death (May 14, 1968 Groton, Connecticut), accepted his responsibility as the senior officer, but flatly rejected the implication that he had been negligent in his duty to protect the Pacific Fleet. He felt that he had been sacrificed unfairly after senior military and administration officials had poorly supported his efforts at preparing a defense against the Japanese.
The Henderson County War Memorial Foundation supports Admiral Kimmel’s position and is pleased and honored to announce that it has commissioned a bronze statue of Henderson, Kentucky native son, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, to honor his service to the nation and to the United States Navy.
The statue will be created by renowned sculptor Raymond Graf, Louisville, Kentucky, whose bronze renditions of the birds of John James Audubon (and a life-sized statue of Audubon himself), currently adorn spots throughout Henderson.
With the help of Henderson County Kentucky Fiscal Court and the Henderson City Commission, this statue will be placed on the Henderson Riverfront. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $100,000 to $125,000.
Dedication ceremonies will take place December 3, 2016, and the public will be invited. Kimmel’s Grandson, Thomas Kimmel, is expected to speak and there will be many other events on the date of the dedication that will make the ceremonies truly memorable.
The Foundation hopes that the statue, representing a significant piece of Henderson’s history, will allow all who follow us to know and honor one of our most renowned citizens.