Eugene B. Fluckey

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Eugene Bennett Fluckey
A light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.
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Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey, March 12, 1963
Nickname(s) Lucky
Born (1913-10-05)October 5, 1913
Washington, D.C.
Died June 28, 2007(2007-06-28) (aged 93)
Annapolis, Maryland
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Navy Seal.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1935–1972
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Rear Admiral
Commands held
Battles/wars
Awards
Other work Orphanage Director, Portugal

Rear Admiral Eugene Bennett Fluckey (October 5, 1913 – June 28, 2007), nicknamed "Lucky Fluckey",[1] was a United States Navy submarine commander who received the Medal of Honor and four Navy Crosses for his service during World War II.

Early life and career[edit]

Fluckey was born in Washington, D.C. on October 5, 1913. He attended Western High School in Washington and Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Boy Scouts and earned the Eagle Scout award. He prepared for the Naval Academy at Columbian Preparatory School, Washington. He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1931, he was graduated and commissioned Ensign in June 1935.

Fluckey's initial assignments were aboard the battleship USS Nevada (BB-36) and in May 1936 was transferred to the destroyer USS McCormick (DD-223). In June 1938 he reported for instruction at the Submarine School, New London, Connecticut and upon completion, he served on USS S-42 (SS-153) and in December 1938, he was assigned to and completed five war patrols on USS Bonita (SS-165). Detached from Bonita in August 1942, he returned to Annapolis for graduate instruction in naval engineering.

USS Barb (SS-220)[edit]

In November 1943, he attended the Prospective Commanding Officer's School at the Submarine Base New London, then reported to Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet. After one war patrol as the prospective commanding officer of the USS Barb (SS-220), (her seventh), he assumed command of the submarine on April 27, 1944. Fluckey established himself as one of the greatest submarine skippers, credited with the most tonnage sunk by a U.S. skipper during World War II: 17 ships including a carrier, cruiser, and frigate.

In one of the stranger incidents in the war, Fluckey sent a landing party ashore to set demolition charges on a coastal railway line, destroying a 16-car train.[2] This was the sole landing by U.S. military forces on the Japanese home islands during World War II.

Fluckey ordered that this landing party be composed of crewmen from every division on his submarine and asked for as many former Boy Scouts as possible, knowing they would have the skills to find their way in unfamiliar territory. The selected crewmen were Paul Saunders, William Hatfield, Francis Sever, Lawrence Newland, Edward Klinglesmith, James Richard, John Markuson, and William Walker. Hatfield wired the explosive charge, using a microswitch under the rails to trigger the explosion.

Fluckey was awarded the Navy Cross four times for extraordinary heroism during the eighth, ninth, tenth, and twelfth war patrols of Barb. During his famous eleventh patrol, he continued to revolutionize submarine warfare, inventing the night convoy attack from astern by joining the flank escort line. He attacked two convoys at anchor 26 miles (42 km) inside the 20 fathom (37 m) curve on the China coast, totaling more than 30 ships. With two frigates pursuing, Barb set a then-world speed record for a submarine of 23.5 knots (44 km/h) using 150% overload. For his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, Fluckey received the Medal of Honor. Barb received the Presidential Unit Citation for the eighth through eleventh patrols and the Navy Unit Commendation for the twelfth patrol.

His book, Thunder Below! (1992), depicts the exploits of his beloved Barb. "Though the tally shows more shells, bombs, and depth charges fired at Barb, no one received the Purple Heart and Barb came back alive, eager, and ready to fight again."[2]

Post-war career[edit]

In August 1945, Fluckey was ordered to Groton, Connecticut, to fit out the USS Dogfish (SS-350) and to be that submarine's Commanding Officer, upon her completion. After the Dogfish's launching, however, he was transferred to the Office of the Secretary of the Navy to work directly for James V. Forrestal on plans for the unification of the Armed Forces. From there he went to the War Plans Division. In December 1945 he was selected by Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the incoming Chief of Naval Operations, as his personal aide.

On June 9, 1947, he returned to submarines, assuming command of USS Halfbeak (SS-352), the second submarine to be converted to a GUPPY-type high-speed attack submarine with a snorkel.

In June 1949, he was ordered to the staff of the commander of the Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet to set up the Submarine Naval Reserve Force. A year later, he became the flag secretary to Admiral James Fife, Jr.. From October 1, 1950, until July 1953, he served as the US Naval Attache and Naval Attache for Air to Portugal. The Portuguese government, for his distinguished service, decorated him with the Medalha de Mérito Militar, noting that this was the first time this decoration was awarded to a naval attache of any other nation.

In September 1953, he took command of the submarine tender USS Sperry (AS-12).

Fluckey commanded Submarine Flotilla Seven (now Submarine Group 7) from October 14, 1955, to January 14, 1956.

He then returned to the Naval Academy to become the chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department.

His selection for the rank of Rear Admiral was approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in July 1960 and in October he reported as Commander, Amphibious Group 4.

In November 1961, he became the president of the Naval Board of Inspection and Survey, Washington, D.C.

He was ComSubPac (Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet), from June 1964 to June 1966.

In July 1966, he became the Director of Naval Intelligence. Two years later, he became Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Portugal.

Admiral Fluckey retired from the Navy in 1972.

He was an honorary companion of the Maryland Commandery of the Military Order of Foreign Wars.

Military awards[edit]

Medal of Honor, Navy Cross with three gold 5/16 inch stars, Navy Distinguished Service Medal with one gold 5/16 inch star, Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal with service star and Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon.

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
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Submarine Warfare Insignia
1st Row Medal of Honor
2nd Row Navy Cross with three gold stars Navy Distinguished Service Medal with one gold star Legion of Merit with two gold stars
3rd Row Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star Navy Unit Commendation with one bronze star American Defense Service Medal with fleet clasp
4th Row Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two service stars American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal
5th Row Philippine Liberation Medal National Defense Service Medal with service star Navy Pistol Marksmanship Medal
1st Row Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia

Fluckey retired from active duty as a Rear Admiral in 1972. His wife, Marjorie, died in 1979, after 42 years of marriage. He later ran an orphanage with his second wife, Margaret, in Portugal for a number of years.

Fluckey, at left, being visited by Vice Admiral Charles Munns in 2006

He died at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland, on June 28, 2007.[3][4] He is buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery.

Fluckey was awarded Eagle Scout in 1948.[5] He is one of only nine known Eagle Scouts who also received the Medal of Honor; the others are Aquilla J. Dyess, Robert Edward Femoyer, Mitchell Paige, Thomas R. Norris, Arlo L. Olson,[6] Ben L. Salomon, Leo K. Thorsness[7] and Jay Zeamer, Jr..

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Barb during her 11th war patrol along the east coast of China from 19 December 1944 to 15 February 1945. After sinking a large enemy ammunition ship and damaging additional tonnage during a running 2-hour night battle on 8 January, Comdr. Fluckey, in an exceptional feat of brilliant deduction and bold tracking on 25 January, located a concentration of more than 30 enemy ships in the lower reaches of Nankuan Chiang (Mamkwan Harbor). Fully aware that a safe retirement would necessitate an hour's run at full speed through the uncharted, mined, and rock-obstructed waters, he bravely ordered, "Battle station — torpedoes!" In a daring penetration of the heavy enemy screen, and riding in 5 fathoms [9 m] of water, he launched the Barb's last forward torpedoes at 3,000 yard [2.7 km] range. Quickly bringing the ship's stern tubes to bear, he turned loose 4 more torpedoes into the enemy, obtaining 8 direct hits on 6 of the main targets to explode a large ammunition ship and cause inestimable damage by the resultant flying shells and other pyrotechnics. Clearing the treacherous area at high speed, he brought the Barb through to safety and 4 days later sank a large Japanese freighter to complete a record of heroic combat achievement, reflecting the highest credit upon Comdr. Fluckey, his gallant officers and men, and the U.S. Naval Service.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Flint Whitlock, Ron Smith, Albert Konetzni. The Depths of Courage: American Submariners at War with Japan, 1941-1945. Penguin Group. p. 355. 
  2. ^ a b Goldstein, Richard (July 1, 2007). "Eugene B. Fluckey, Daring Submarine Skipper, Dies at 93". New York Times. Retrieved October 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ Ewing, Philip (2007-07-02). "Highly decorated WWII ex-admiral dies at 93". Navy Times. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  4. ^ Schudel, Matt (July 2, 2007). "Eugene Fluckey, iconic admiral credited with daring sub raids". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  5. ^ "Pinnacle". Time. February 9, 1948. 
  6. ^ "Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient CPT Arlo L. Olson" (PDF). South Dakota Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Rendezvous with the Rattlesnake" (Republished on Geocities.com). The Airman Magazine. 1974. Archived from the original on 2009-08-03. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Naval History & Heritage Command.

External links[edit]