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TPWD News Release — July 6, 2004

Nimitz Symposium To Examine Battle of Leyte Gulf

FREDERICKSBURG, Texas — The Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site-National Museum of the Pacific War and the Admiral Nimitz Foundation will tell the story of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle fought anywhere and the last great naval battle of World War II, at "The Battle of Leyte Gulf," the museum’s 17th annual symposium Sept. 18-19.

Newsweek magazine assistant managing editor Evan Thomas, who wrote an acclaimed biography of naval legend John Paul Jones and is writing a book about the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and James Hornfischer, author of "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors," which recounts the heroic stand of American sailors at the Battle Off Samar, are among the speakers. Joining them will be John F. Wukovits, widely published military expert who has chronicled World War II in the Pacific and is the author of "Pacific Alamo: The Battle for Wake Island."

Also leading panel discussions will be historians Don Goldstein of the University of Pittsburg and Richard Frank, the author of numerous best-selling books about World War II in the Pacific. World War II veterans will participate lending their valuable insights to the presentations.

"The struggle involved more than 200,000 men and 282 American, Japanese and Australian ships across more than 100,000-square miles of sea," said Helen McDonald, assistant director of the museum. "The battle was a complex series of maneuvers. We will look at the tactical and strategic mistakes on both sides and the controversies involving the top Pacific War commanders, including Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, General Douglas MacArthur, and Admiral William F. Halsey. We’ll also look at the human side of the battle, which is filled with awe-inspiring heroism."

"The Battle of Leyte is often overshadowed by Pearl Harbor and Midway," said McDonald. "At the symposium, we will help the public better appreciate the courage and bravery shown during the battle and the battle’s importance in world history.’

Fought in October 1944, the Battle of Leyte Gulf ensured American maritime supremacy in the last months of World War II. It included four decisive naval actions: the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, the Battle of Cape Engaño, the Battle of Surigao Strait, and the Battle off Samar. The battle is also memorable for the first organized kamikaze attack.

The battle all but wiped out the Imperial Japanese Navy, which could neither protect itself from air attack nor effectively guard the sea approaches to Japan. The U.S. Navy lost 10 ships and the Imperial Japanese Navy lost 35. More than 10,000 Japanese airman and sailors died and less than 3,000 American lives were lost.

Cosponsors of the event are the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, St. Edward’s University, Fredericksburg Independent School District, the U.S. Naval Institute, and Texas Tech University.

The symposium is open to the public and will be held in the auditorium at Fredericksburg High School, Highway 16 South and Stadium Drive. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Cost is $40 per person for members of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation and $50 for non-members. Box lunches are available for an additional $8 per day. Dinner with the panelists is available Saturday evening for $40 per person. Participants may register online at ( or by calling the Admiral Nimitz Foundation at (830) 997-8600.

The National Museum of the Pacific War is the only museum in the world dedicated to telling the entire story of the war in the Pacific during World War II. It is a state historical site managed by TPWD and supported in part by the Admiral Nimitz Foundation.