William F. Lukes

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William F. Lukes
William F Lukes.jpg
Landsman William F. Lukes
Born (1847-02-19)February 19, 1847
Niderbergdorf, Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic)
Died December 13, 1923(1923-12-13) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Buried at Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
Allegiance United States
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg United States Navy
Rank Seaman
Unit USS Colorado
Battles/wars Korean Expedition
Awards Medal of Honor

William F. Lukes (February 19, 1847, Niderbergdorf, Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) – December 13, 1923, Los Angeles)[1] was a United States Navy sailor and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the 1871 Korean Expedition.


William F. Lukes enlisted in the U.S. Navy from Tianjin, China and served as a Landsman onboard USS Colorado in Company D as part of the Korean Expedition. On June 11, 1871, during the capture of the Han River forts on Ganghwa Island, the leader of the American attack, Lieutenant Hugh McKee, was mortally wounded. Landsman Lukes and two other sailors, Seth Allen and Thomas Murphy, attempted to rescue Lt. McKee but encountered heavy resistance. In the course of the ensuing hand-to-hand fight, Allen and Murphy were killed. Lukes suffered a severe cut to the head but continued to fight; he survived the engagement. When reinforcements arrived, they found Lukes unconscious, with 18 bayonet wounds, lying over the body of Lieutenant McKee. Lukes remained unconscious aboard the Colorado for 39 days.[2] For his actions on that occasion, Lukes was specially mentioned by his commanding officer for conspicuous "coolness and bravery during the desperate fight" and awarded the Medal of Honor.[3]

Before leaving the Navy, William Lukes obtained the rank of Seaman. Lukes suffered convulsions due to brain injury for the rest of his life.[2] He died at the age of 76 and is buried in Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, California.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1846, Bohemia. Enlisted at: Tientsin, China. G.O. No.: 180, October 10, 1872.[3]


Served with Company D during the capture of the Korean forts, 9 and 10 June 1871. Fighting the enemy inside the fort, Lukes received a severe cut over the head.[4]

See also[edit]

Depiction of Lukes, Allen and Murphy in hand-to-hand combat with a Korean force


  1. ^ "NH 79941 Landsman William F. Lukes, USN". Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Jones, J. William (1897). The Story of American Heroism. Springfield, OH: The Werner Company. p. 752. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Robeson, George M. (February 8, 1872). "General Order, No. 180". General orders and circulars issued by the Navy Department. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office (1863–1887): 111. Retrieved 2015-02-02. 
  4. ^ "William F. Lukes, Medal of Honor recipient". 1871 Korean Campaign. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 


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