Obituary – Rear Admiral Eugene Bennet Fluckey
Rear Admiral Eugene Bennet Fluckey (October 5, 1913 – June 28, 2007)
Eugene Fluckey was the most decorated submariner in US Naval history. As commander of the USS Barb (SS-220), he sunk more tonnage than any other US skipper, a total of seventeen ships including the Japanese carrier, Unyo. He was the only American submarine skipper to fire surface rockets from his submarine at targets on shore and even sent a landing party ashore to blow up a Japanese train. This was the only time during World War II that American troops set foot on the Japanese home islands. His exploits earned him the Navy Cross four times.
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He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his daring approach on Mamkwan Harbor where 30 enemy ships were docked. In only 5 fathoms of water, he fired the bow and stern tubes, obtaining eight hits, and made a one hour escape run at full speed through uncharted, mined and rock-obstructed waters.
In his book, Thunder Below! (1992), Fluckey argues that his most praiseworthy deed was bringing his crew back safe and sound from each patrol.
Born in Washington D.C., he was appointed to the Naval Academy in 1931. After assignments aboard a battleship and destroyer, he reported for instruction at Submarine School in 1938. He completed five war patrols on Bonita (SS-165) before returning for graduate instruction. After one patrol aboard Barb, he assumed command on April 27, 1944. After the war, Fluckey was selected to be the personal aide to Chester Nimitz. He later returned to submarines for nearly a decade before accepting a position at the Naval Academy. In 1960 he was selected for the rank of Rear Admiral.
Fluckey died in Annapolis, Maryland. He was 93.