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First Name: Eugene

Last Name: Fluckey

Birthplace: Washington, DC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: Annapolis, MD
Middle Name: Bennett

Date of Birth: 05 October 1913

Date of Death: 28 June 2007

Rank or Rate: Rear Admiral

Years Served: 1935-1972
Eugene Bennett Fluckey

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Eugene Bennett "Lucky" Fluckey
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Rear Admiral Eugene Bennett "Lucky" Fluckey (5 October 1913 - 28 June 2007) as a U.S. Navy officer and submarine commander who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. Fluckey was awarded Eagle Scout in 1948. He was one of only seven men known to have received both the Medal of Honor and Eagle Scout; the others are Aquilla J. Dyess, Robert Edward Femoyer, Mitchell Paige, Benjamin L. Salomon, Leo K. Thorsness, and Jay Zeamer, Jr.

Eugene Bennett Fluckey was born on 5 October 1913 in Washington, DC. He attended Western High School in Washington and Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, PA. He prepared for the Naval Academy at Columbian Preparatory School in Washington. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1931 and he graduated and was commissioned an Ensign in June 1935.

Fluckey's initial sea assignments were aboard the battleship USS Nevada (BB-36) and, in May 1936, aboard the destroyer USS McCormick (DD-223). In June 1938 he reported for instruction at the Submarine School, New London, CT, and, upon completion, he served on USS S-42 (SS-153). 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)

In November 1943, he attended the Prospective Commanding Officer's School at the Submarine Base New London, and then reported to Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet. After a one war patrol as the prospective commanding officer of the USS Barb (SS-220), (her seventh) he assumed command of the submarine on 27 April 1944. Fluckey established himself as one of the greatest submarine skippers by being credited with the most tonnage sunk by a U.S. skipper during World War II: 17 ships that included 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. 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 inside the 20 fathom 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 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."

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Commander, U.S. Navy, Commanding USS Barb.

Place and date: Along coast of China, 19 December 1944 to 15 February 1945.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the USS 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.

Post-War Career

In August 1945, Fluckey was ordered to Groton, CT, 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 9 June 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 1 October 1950 until July 1953; he served as the U.S. Naval Attaché and Naval Attaché for Air to Portugal. The Portuguese government, for his distinguished service, decorated him with the Medalha Militar, noting that this was the first time this decoration was awarded to a naval attaché 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 14 October 1955 to 14 January 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 Four. In November 1961, he became the president of the Naval Board of Inspection and Survey, Washington, DC.

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.

Fluckey retired from active duty as a Rear Admiral in 1972. His first 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.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Navy Cross with 3 Gold Stars (4 Awards)
Presidential Unit Citation
Navy Unit Commendation
National Defense Service Medal
American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal

Death and Burial

Rear Admiral Eugene Bennett Fluckey died on 28 June 2007 at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, MD. He is buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, MD.

Honoree ID: 1391   Created by: MHOH




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