Commander Eugene B. Fluckey, USN (December 14, 1944-February 15, 1945)

Eugene Bennett Fluckey was born in Washington, District of Columbia on October 5, 1913. He graduated with the United States Naval Academy class of 1935 and commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy. After a few years in surface ships, he reported for submarine training in 1938.

Fluckey completed five war patrols as an officer aboard the USS Bonita (SS-165) before returning to the United States for shore duty and training from late 1942 to 1943. On April 27, 1944 he was given command of the Gato-class submarine USS Barb (SS-220).

As captain of the Barb, Fluckey was one of the most successful submarine commanders of the war, earning the Navy Cross for each of the Barb‘s eighth (5/21/1944-7/9/1944), ninth (8/4/1944-10/9/1944), tenth (10/27/1944-111/25/1944), and twelfth (6/8/1945-8/2/1945) war patrols.

For Barb‘s eleventh patrol – December 14, 1944 to February 15, 1945 – Fluckey received the Medal of Honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (A-F):

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon (background)
Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

FLUCKEY, EUGENE BENNETT

Rank and organization: Commander, U.S. Navy, Commanding U.S.S. Barb.
Place and date: Along coast of China, 19 December 1944 to 15 February 1945. Entered service at: Illinois
Other Navy award: Navy Cross with 3 Gold Stars

Citation: 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 of water, he launched the Barb’s last forward torpedoes at 3,000-yard 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.

And from Military Times’ Hall of Valor, here are Fluckey’s four citations for the Navy Cross:

NC-200pxThe President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Commander Eugene Bennett Fluckey, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BARB (SS-220), on the EIGHTH War Patrol of that submarine during the period 21 May 1944 to 9 July 1944, in enemy controlled waters of the Pacific War Area. Skillfully maneuvering his vessel into favorable strike position despite the hazards of adverse weather, ice floes and fog, Commander Fluckey launched torpedo attacks to sink five enemy ships totaling more than 37,000 tons and account for two more in aggressive gun battles. Despite persistent hostile countermeasures, he employed skillful evasive tactics to bring his ship to port without damage. His leadership and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon Commander Fluckey and the United States Naval Service.

NC-200pxThe President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Navy Cross to Commander Eugene Bennett Fluckey, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BARB (SS-220), on the NINTH War Patrol of that submarine during the period 4 August 1944 to 9 October 1944, in enemy controlled waters of the Luzon Straits. Pursuing aggressive and tenacious tactics despite strong countermeasures by the enemy, Commander Fluckey launched damaging torpedo attacks against Japanese shipping and combatant units to sink a 10,000-ton auxiliary aircraft carrier and to damage a tanker of 5,000 tons. Effecting the rescue of fourteen British and Australian prisoners of war who were survivors of a torpedoed enemy transport, he provided care and treatment for the sick and wounded and, although heavy enemy counterattacks caused minor damage to his ship, employed evasive tactics and returned to port without further damage. His skill, courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

NC-200pxThe President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Second Gold Star in lieu of a Third Award of the Navy Cross to Commander Eugene Bennett Fluckey, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BARB (SS-220), on the TENTH War Patrol of that submarine during the period 27 October 1944 to 25 November 1944, in enemy controlled waters of the East China Sea. Maneuvering his ship in extremely shallow water and with skill and aggressiveness, Commander Fluckey braved intense hostile countermeasures to penetrate strong enemy escort screens and launch smashing torpedo attacks against Japanese shipping, sinking five enemy ships for a total of more than 28,000 tons and damaging three other vessels, including a large aircraft carrier, totaling more than 40,000 tons. By his inspiring leadership and devotion to the fulfillment of his hazardous missions, Commander Fluckey upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

NC-200pxThe President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Third Gold Star in lieu of a Fourth Award of the Navy Cross to Commander Eugene Bennett Fluckey, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. BARB (SS-220), on the TWELFTH War Patrol of that submarine during the period 8 June 1945 to 2 August 1945, in enemy controlled waters of the East China Sea. Introducing rocket and saboteur tactics into submarine warfare, Commander Fluckey braved severe enemy countermeasures including six bombing attacks by enemy aircraft, gunfire from enemy shore batteries and surface ships and extensive depth charge attacks to take his vessel into extremely shallow water and launch bold torpedo, rocket and gun attacks which resulted in the sinking of enemy shipping totaling 11,000 tons and the infliction of extreme damage to seven Japanese coastal towns. Landing a party of commandos in rubber boats on a hostile shore on one occasion, he contributed to their success in destroying a Japanese train. By his courage and inspiring leadership throughout, he upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Fluckey retired from the Navy in 1972 as a Rear Admiral. During his career he also commanded the submarine USS Halfbeak (SS-352) and submarine tender USS Sperry (AS-12) and was both the Commander, Submarine Force Pacific and the Director of Naval Intelligence. He was also a two-time recipient of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and three-time of the Legion of Merit. Fluckey passed away at age 93 on June 28, 2007 and was laid to rest in the United States Naval Academy Cemetery.

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