Rear Admiral EUGENE BENNETT ' LUCKY ' FLUCKEY one of America’s most daring submarine commanders of World War II and a recipient of the Medal of Honor, died on Thursday 28 June 2007 in Annapolis, Maryland. He was 93.
The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, said his daughter, BARBARA BOVE.
The skipper of the submarine USS BARB in the Pacific from April 1944 to August 1945, Commander Fluckey was known for innovative tactics.
He was the only American submarine skipper to fire rockets at Japanese targets on shore, and he oversaw a sabotage raid in which sailors from his submarine blew up a Japanese train.
In addition to receiving the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, he was the recipient of four awards of the Navy Cross, his service’s
The Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee, which provided final, official tallies for World War II submarine attacks, credited him with destroying
95,360 tons of Japanese shipping, the highest total for an American submarine commander.
According to Admiral Fluckey’s own findings, based on his 10 years of postwar research, the Barb sank about 145,000 tons under his command during five extended periods at sea.
He was credited by military authorities with sinking 16 Japanese ships and taking part with two other skippers in a 17th sinking, the fourth-highest total
among World War II submarine commanders from the United States.
By his own accounting, he sank 28 ships and took part in a 29th sinking.
In September 1944, the Barb sank the 20,000-ton Japanese aircraft carrier UNYO and an 11,000-ton Japanese tanker in the same torpedo salvo.
Commander RICHARD HETHERINGTON O'KANE, also a Medal of Honor recipient, ranked No. 1 in sinkings, with 24, but No. 2 behind Commander Fluckey in gross tonnage destroyed, according to the joint assessment unit, whose postwar findings generally differed from submarine commanders’ reports filed in the aftermath of combat.
Telling of the Barb’s attacks on Japanese shipping early in 1945, author CLAY BLAIR JR wrote in the book “ SILENT VICTORY:THE U.S. SUBMARINE WAR AGAINST JAPAN ” that when Commander Fluckey took his submarine back to Pearl Harbor, “ he was greeted with a red carpet.” “ His endorsements were ecstatic.
One stated, ‘ The Barb is one of the finest fighting submarines this war has ever known.’ ”
EUGENE BENNETT FLUCKEY was born in Washington on 5 October 1913.
When he was 10, he was mightily impressed by a radio speech by President CALVIN COOLIDGE emphasizing persistence as a prime ingredient for
He named his dog Calvin Coolidge, and inspired by the admonition to excel, he finished high school at age 15.
He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1935 and served on the submarine USS BONITA in the early years of World War II, before commanding the Barb and taking as his motto “ we don’t have problems, just solutions.”
He was awarded the Medal of Honor for the Barb’s attacks on Japanese ships from December 1944 to February 1945 in waters off the eastern coast of occupied China and was cited specifically for the events in the predawn hours of 23 January 1945.
The Barb, riding above the surface in shallow, uncharted, mined and rock-obstructed waters, sneaked into a harbor some 250 miles south of Shanghai and scored direct hits on 6 of the more than 30 Japanese ships there. A large ammunition ship was blown up in the attack, according to the citation.
“Clearing the treacherous area at high speed,” the citation said, “he brought the Barb through to safety, and four days later sank a large Japanese freighter to complete a record of heroic combat achievement.”
In the summer of 1945, the Barb became the first American submarine armed with rockets, and it used them to strike a Japanese air station and several factories.
On 23 July 1945, the Barb embarked on a sabotage mission.
With the submarine standing 950 yards offshore, eight volunteers, aboard a pair of rubber boats, paddled onto Japanese soil on the southern half of Sakhalin Island under cover of night and planted explosive charges on railroad tracks 400 yards inland.
Commander Fluckey had considered giving the crewmen a terse Hollywood-style sendoff, but as he told The New York Times afterward, all he could think of was: “ Boys, if you get stuck, head for Siberia, 130 miles north. Following the mountain ranges. Good luck.”
The crewmen did not get stuck, and as they paddled back to the Barb, a 16-car train came by, triggering the explosives. The wreckage flew 200 feet in the air.
Soon after the war ended, Commander Fluckey became an aide to Navy Secretary JAMES FORRESTAL and to the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral CHESTER W. NIMITZ.
He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1960.
He commanded American submarine forces in the Pacific and was the Director of Naval Intelligence in the 1960s. He retired from military service in 1972. In addition to his daughter, of Summerfield, Florida, and Annapolis, he is survived by his wife, Margaret; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
His first wife, Marjorie, died in 1979. For all his exploits, Admiral Fluckey said he was most proud of one thing. As he put it in his memoir, “ THUNDER BELOW ! ” ( University of Illinois Press, 1992 ):
“No one who ever served under my command was awarded the Purple Heart for being wounded or killed, and all of us brought our Barb back safe and sound.”
Special to www.historicalmilitaria.com 29 June 2007