Events surrounding the Nation's Birthday 2007
This past week, including Independence Day, has been a great one for those who appreciate military history...and I do.
Sunday afternoon 1 July, I participated in a special program in Tarpon Springs honoring Veterans, and hosted by Congressman Gus Bilirakis, a freshman Member who serves on the U.S. House Veterans Committee. The program included Jack Harris as Master of Ceremonies (Jack may be the best-known public personage in Tampa Bay through his 35 years broadcasting on WFLA).
Our host for the venue of East Lake High School was its Principal, Clayton Snare, who made it quite clear he regards our Veterans among the most indispensable citizens in the land. Also speaking was retired Brigadier General Michael Kussman, the Under Secretary of Healthcare for the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (he runs the world's most comprehensive healthcare system, and has a budget of approximately $35 billion/yr.). I followed Dr. Kussman on the platform, and I said (after a few minor quips): "Remember...
It is the Veteran, not the preacher, who has given us FREEDOM OF RELIGION;
It is the Veteran, not the reporter, who has given us FREEDOM OF THE PRESS;
It is the Veteran, not the poet, who has given us FREEDOM OF SPEECH;
It is the Veteran, not the liberal protestors, who has given us FREEDOM TO ASSEMBLE;
It is the Veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL;
It is the Veteran, not the politician, who has given us the RIGHT TO VOTE;
It is the Veteran...
To our Veterans and their families, our Nation thanks you for your loyal service."
Following me was Brigadier General Perryman, Commander of the 53rd Brigade of the Florida Army National Guard, whose troops have served, and still serve with distinction on the front lines in the Global War on Terrorism. Following him was retired U.S. Congressman Mike Bilirakis, former Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
And then, the most remarkable event of the day unfolded; the Congressman introduced entertainer and songster Tony Orlando, who became famous in the Viet Nam war era by recording the big hit song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree," to dramatize for the Nation the widespread public discontent with that war, the draft of soldiers, the lack of strategic success in that war, the distress of the malcontents caught in the drug culture, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King,Jr., the civil rights confrontations of the 1960s, i.e. an overall deficit of character, direction and purpose at the time.
Instead of hitting the stage running, wireless mike-in-hand, with loud transcribed music, clever dance steps, and a medley of songs he made famous, this star of several generations now (he is 63), walked briskly to the front edge of the stage, launched into an extensive explanation of how it is different this time. 35-40 years ago the troops came home and had to retreat in some cases to avoid public scorn for doing the job the President had commanded them to do (defend South Viet Nam). This time we welcome them home, and readily acknowledge that those injured are ours to nurture, protect, and restore through the rest of their lives if necessary.
In the audience up front were several obviously injured recent returnees from combat (one was in a wheelchair and unable to talk, or even change his facial expression), and Mr. Orlando singled them out, and was effusive in his thanks for their service to the Nation.
He went on to explain how the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" evolved, how Bob Hope recommended Tony do the record, and how this one recording became a talisman for American troops serving in foreign lands then (and ever since!), and made Tony famous and wealthy beyond his wildest imagination. After all these years, he is STILL identified with "Tie a Yellow Ribbon."
Next, he asked the sound engineer to bring up the music volume...LOUD LOUD. He started singing "Tie a Yellow Ribbon," and asked us to join him. It was a very emotional moment for everyone present to hear ourselves in the thunderous refrain of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" in the East Lake High School Auditorium on this special Sunday afternoon preceding Independence Day 2007.
When the last note faded, Tony Orlando invited the two injured soldiers down front (and their families) to join him for an upcoming stage show featuring him out-of-State...at his expense. The house went wild with applause!
The conclusion for the afternoon was provided by freshman Congressman Gus Bilirakis, who thanked the many people and organizations who had contributed their time, talent, and resources to the occasion, and that he wanted to do it again next year. Our Florida Department of Veterans Affairs had a booth staffed by experts from our Veterans Benefits and Assistance cadre. The Veterans Service Organizations (of which there are more than 20 in Florida alone) were ably represented, as were the U.S. Military services and the Florida National Guard. There was fun and food for all. It was truly a model for an old-fashioned patriotic rally to celebrate patriotism, the Nation's birthday, and to honor our U.S. Military services...and those who EVER so-served.
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The very next morning, I drove a hundred miles south to our State Veterans' Nursing Home in Port Charlotte. We were hosting Congressman Vern Buchanan (another freshman on the House Veterans Committee) for his first visit, so I wanted to be there. Our Home Administrator, Ms. Elizabeth Barton was there to greet everybody, as was her senior staff, and personally conducted the tour, which she did with great skill and characteristic enthusiasm.
As a member of the House Veterans Committee in the Congress, Mr. Buchanan asked the right questions, and seemed genuinely interested in the answers. He was on a tight schedule to the next meeting, so he was there only an hour, but seemed pleased. I thought it went well.
From my perspective, I thought the last 20 hours with two incumbent Congressmen, both on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, was a big opportunity to appraise their interest/knowledge of the needs of Veterans. I was highly impressed with both.
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On the day preceding the Nation's Birthday and National Holiday July 4th, we lost one of the most courageous American military leaders of my lifetime, Rear Admiral Eugene Fluckey U.S. Navy (Retired). I only met him once (at the Navy Ball WASHDC 1961), but as a submarine officer myself, I can tell you Admiral Fluckey was the epitome of wartime heroes at sea. I have attached his obituary as an attachment for your collateral reading, which I think you will find quite thrilling, as I did.
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On July 4th, I was assigned the duty to get the boat running to take our grandchildren out on Tampa Bay to watch the fireworks all around the Bay from a central point. Since I had not used the boat in so long, I discovered the batteries were quite dead. While most bounced back (not all), it was too late to get underway. Furthermore, a deluge of rain in a late afternoon thunderstorm had dampened our enthusiasm. So this July 4th was spent fixing the boat, watching the festivities in WASHDC on TV, and staying off the highway.
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On Saturday morning I was the keynote speaker for the Florida annual convention for the American Legion at the Rosen Convention Center near Orlando. I told them about my early recollections of the American Legion in Florida (e.g. The Miami Drum & Bugle Corps…. who wore white WWI uniforms, leggings and helmets; their sponsorship of Boys State and Girls State; their Legion Home in Tallahassee where we held our high schools dances….plus our Class of 1952 reunions for the past 50+ years; and the summer baseball programs, etc.). I reviewed the duties of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs and the add-on benefits achieved with the 2007 Florida Legislature. George Wherli, the outgoing State Commander, proudly announced their American Legion membership in Florida is at an all-time high of 143,000 members.
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Leaving Orlando, I went north to Deland's Municipal Airport (Naval Air Station Deland during WWII) to see a fascinating historical restoration project underway under auspices of the Florida Secretary of State…..involving the restoration of a warship used in the beginning of the Viet Nam conflict of 1964-74, i.e. Patrol Torpedo Boat (Fast) PTF-3. This actual hull was directly involved in the Gulf of Tonkin confrontation with the North Vietnamese, which precipitated the conflict and ultimately cost 58,000 U.S. lives, plus major political confrontations at home.
This hull was found almost abandoned and half sunk in Fort Lauderdale following a recent hurricane. Some Viet Nam war veterans in Florida decided this boat should be saved, and started such an effort just in the last few years. Most of their labor has been donated, so the progress is slow, but deliberate. The project manager, Robert M.____, is a disabled Navy Veteran, who co-ordinates the work list, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the boat's parts and plans. I took a tour of the boat, its portable shops, and talked to members of its restoration team, many of whom are Veterans of the "Brown Water Navy" in Viet Nam. They have linked the project to a local Boy Scout Troop, so they have the added benefit of inspiring the young Scouts to see the project through to completion. To see more about this ambitious project, see their website: www.ptf3restoration.org.
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Tomorrow (Monday, 9 July) will be another exciting military event in the Tampa Bay area. At the Tampa Convention Center will be an historic change of command for the U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base. It will be especially historic, because it will be the first time a Naval Officer has this command. That person will be Vice Admiral Eric Olson USN. In doing so, Admiral Olson will get his fourth star, and become the first Navy SEAL to earn four stars (he was the first SEAL to earn three stars). Since he is a close friend, I am especially excited about this promotion. He has been the Deputy in this same command for the past three years, so the change should be seamless.
It has been an exciting week for me as the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs. Veterans
are exciting people, and intensely loyal to our Nation. It is an honor and privilege to serve them.
/s/ LeRoy Collins>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Subject: Submariners: -- The Submarine that Sank a Train
In 1973 an Italian submarine named Enrique Tazzoli was sold for a paltry $100,000 as scrap metal. The submarine (formerly U.S.S. BARB), given to the Italian Navy in 1953 was actually an incredible veteran of World War II service with a heritage that never should have passed so unnoticed into the graveyards of the metal recyclers. The U.S.S. Barb was a pioneer, paving the way for the first submarine launched missiles and flying a battle flag unlike that of any other ship. In addition to the Medal of Honor ribbon at the top of the flag identifying the heroism of its captain, Commander Eugene "Lucky" Fluckey, the bottom border of the flag bore the image of a Japanese locomotive. The U.S.S. Barb was indeed, the submarine that "SANK A TRAIN."
July, 1945 (Guam)
Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz looked across the desk at Admiral Lockwood as he finished the personal briefing on U.S. war ships in the vicinity of the northern coastal areas of Hokkaido, Japan. "Well, Chester, there's only the Barb there, and probably no word until the patrol is finished. You remember Gene Fluckey?" "Of course. I recommended him for the Medal of Honor," Admiral Nimitz replied. "You surely pulled him from command after he received it?"
July 18, 1945 (Patience Bay, Off the coast of Karafuto, Japan)
It was after 4 A.M. and Commander Fluckey rubbed his eyes as he peered over the map spread before him. It was the twelfth war patrol of the Barb, the fifth under Commander Fluckey. He should have turned command over to another skipper after four patrols, but had managed to strike a deal with Admiral Lockwood to make one more trip with the men he cared for like a father, should his fourth patrol be successful. Of course, no one suspected when he had struck that deal prior to his fourth and what should have been his final war patrol on the Barb, that Commander Fluckey's success would be so great he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Commander Fluckey smiled as he remembered that patrol. "Lucky" Fluckey they called him. On January 8th the Barb had emerged victorious from a running two-hour night battle after sinking a large enemy ammunition ship. Two weeks later in Mamkwan Harbor he found the "mother-lode"...more than 30 enemy ships. In only 5 fathoms (30 feet) of water his crew had unleashed the sub's forward torpedoes, then turned and fired four from the stern. As he pushed the Barb to the full limit of its speed through the dangerous waters in a daring withdrawal to the open sea, he recorded eight direct hits on six enemy ships. Then, on the return home he added yet another Japanese freighter to the tally for the Barb's eleventh patrol, a score that exceeded even the number of that patrol. What could possibly be left for the Commander to accomplish who, just three months earlier had been in Washington, DC to receive the Medal of Honor? He smiled to himself as he looked again at the map showing the rail line that ran along the enemy coast line. This final patrol had been promised as the Barb's "graduation patrol" and he and his crew had cooked up an unusual finale. Since the 8th of June they had harassed the enemy, destroying the enemy supplies and coastal fortifications with the first submarine launched rocket attacks. Now his crew was buzzing excitedly about bagging a train.
The rail line itself wouldn't be a problem. A shore patrol could go ashore under cover of darkness to plant the explosives...one of the sub's 55-pound scuttling charges. But this early morning Lucky Fluckey and his officers were puzzling over how they could blow not only the rails, but one of the frequent trains that shuttled supplies to equip the Japanese war machine. Such a daring feat could handicap the enemy's war effort for several days, a week, perhaps even longer. It was a crazy idea; just the kind of operation "Lucky" Fluckey had become famous...or infamous...for. But no matter how crazy the idea might have sounded, the Barb's skipper would not risk the lives of his men. Thus the problem...how to detonate the charge at the moment the train passed, without endangering the life of a shore party. PROBLEM? Not on Commander Fluckey's ship. His philosophy had always been "We don't have problems, only solutions."
"Battle Stations!" No more time to seek solutions or to ponder blowing up a train. The approach of a Japanese freighter with a frigate escort demands traditional submarine warfare. By noon the frigate is laying on the ocean floor in pieces and the Barb is in danger of becoming the hunted.
Solutions! If you don't look for them, you'll never find them. And even then, sometimes they arrive in the most unusual fashion. Cruising slowly beneath the surface to evade the enemy plane now circling overhead, the monotony is broken with an exciting new idea. Instead of having a crewman on shore to trigger explosives to blow both rail and a passing train, why not let the train BLOW ITSELF up. Billy Hatfield was excitedly explaining how he had cracked nuts on the railroad tracks as a kid, placing the nuts between two ties so the sagging of the rail under the weight of a train would break them open. "Just like cracking walnuts," he explained. "To complete the circuit (detonating the 55-pound charge) we hook in a micro switch ...between two ties. We don't set it off, the TRAIN does." Not only did Hatfield have the plan, he wanted to be part of the volunteer shore party.
The solution found, there was no shortage of volunteers; all that was needed was the proper weather...a little cloud cover to darken the moon for the mission ashore. Lucky Fluckey established his own criteria for the volunteer party:
No married men would be included, except for Hatfield.
The party would include members from each department.
The opportunity would be split between regular Navy and Navy Reserve sailors.
At least half of the men had to have been Boy Scouts, experienced in how to handle themselves in medical emergencies and in the woods.
FINALLY, "Lucky" Fluckey would lead the saboteurs himself. When the names of the 8 selected sailors was announced it was greeted with a mixture of excitement and disappointment. Among the disappointed was Commander Fluckey who surrendered his opportunity at the insistence of his officers that "as commander he belonged with the Barb," coupled with the threat from one that "I swear I'll send a message to ComSubPac if you attempt this (joining the shore party himself)." Even a Japanese POW being held on the Barb wanted to go, promising not to try to escape. In the meantime, there would be no more harassment of Japanese shipping or shore operations by the Barb until the train mission had been accomplished. The crew would "lay low," prepare their equipment, train, and wait for the weather.
July 22, 1945 (Patience Bay, Off the coast of Karafuto, Japan)
Patience Bay was wearing thin the patience of Commander Fluckey and his innovative crew. Everything was ready. In the four days the saboteurs had anxiously watched the skies for cloud cover, the inventive crew of the Barb had built their micro switch. When the need was posed for a pick and shovel to bury the explosive charge and batteries, the Barb's engineers had cut up steel plates in the lower flats of an engine room, then bent and welded them to create the needed tools. The only things beyond their control was the weather....and time. Only five days remained in the Barb's patrol. Anxiously watching the skies, Commander Fluckey noticed plumes of cirrus clouds, then white stratus capping the mountain peaks ashore. A cloud cover was building to hide the three-quarters moon. This would be the night.
MIDNIGHT, July 23, 1945
The Barb had crept within 950 yards of the shoreline. If it was somehow seen from the shore it would probably be mistaken for a schooner or Japanese patrol boat. No one would suspect an American submarine so close to shore or in such shallow water. Slowly the small boats were lowered to the water and the 8 saboteurs began paddling toward the enemy beach. Twenty-five minutes later they pulled the boats ashore and walked on the surface of the Japanese homeland. Having lost their points of navigation, the saboteurs landed near the backyard of a house. Fortunately the residents had no dogs, though the sight of human and dog's tracks in the sand along the beach alerted the brave sailors to the potential for unexpected danger. Stumbling through noisy waist-high grasses, crossing a highway and then stumbling into a 4-foot drainage ditch, the saboteurs made their way to the railroad tracks. Three men were posted as guards, Markuson assigned to examine a nearby water tower. The Barb's auxiliary man climbed the ladder, and then stopped in shock as he realized it was an enemy lookout tower....an OCCUPIED tower. Fortunately the Japanese sentry was peacefully sleeping and Markuson was able to quietly withdraw and warn his raiding party. The news from Markuson caused the men digging the placement for the explosive charge to continue their work more slowly and quietly. Suddenly, from less than 80 yards away, an express train was bearing down on them. The appearance was a surprise; it hadn't occurred to the crew during the planning for the mission that there might be a night train. When at last it passed, the brave but nervous sailors extricated themselves from the brush into which they had leapt, to continue their task. Twenty minutes later the holes had been dug and the explosives and batteries hidden beneath fresh soil. During planning for the mission the saboteurs had been told that, with the explosives in place, all would retreat a safe distance while Hatfield made the final connection. If the sailor who had once cracked walnuts on the railroad tracks slipped during this final, dangerous procedure, his would be the only life lost. On this night it was the only order the saboteurs refused to obey, all of them peering anxiously over Hatfield's shoulder to make sure he did it right. The men had come too far to be disappointed by a switch failure.
Watching from the deck of the Barb, Commander Fluckey allowed himself a sigh of relief as he noticed the flashlight signal from the beach announcing the departure of the shore party. He had skillfully, and daringly, guided the Barb within 600 yards of the enemy beach. There was less than 6 feet of water beneath the sub's keel, but Fluckey wanted to be close in case trouble arose and a daring rescue of his saboteurs became necessary.
The two boats carrying his saboteurs were only halfway back to the Barb when the sub's machine gunner yelled, "CAPTAIN! Another train coming up the tracks!" The Commander grabbed a megaphone and yelled through the night, "Paddle like the devil!" knowing full well that they wouldn't reach the Barb before the train hit the micro switch.
The darkness was shattered by brilliant light and the roar of the explosion. The boilers of the locomotive blew, shattered pieces of the engine blowing 200 feet into the air. Behind it the cars began to accordion into each other, bursting into flame and adding to the magnificent fireworks display. Five minutes later the saboteurs we lifted to the deck by their exuberant comrades as the Barb turned to slip back to safer waters. Moving at only two knots, it would be a while before the Barb was into waters deep enough to allow it to submerge. It was a moment to savor, the culmination of teamwork, ingenuity and daring by the Commander and all his crew. "Lucky" Fluckey's voice came over the intercom. "All hands below deck not absolutely needed to maneuver the ship have permission to come topside." He didn't have to repeat the invitation. Hatches sprang open as the proud sailors of the Barb gathered on her decks to proudly watch the distant fireworks display. The Barb had "sunk" a Japanese TRAIN!
Another article on Captain Fluckey:
Eugene B. FluckeyWE NOTE WITH SADNESS the recent passing of Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey, U.S. Navy, Retired, aged 93. Adm. Fluckey and his wife lived in Annapolis, Maryland.
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (1913-2007)
Most Decorated U.S. VeteranAt the time of his death, Admiral Fluckey had the distinction of holding the most combat decorations of any living veteran of the U.S. armed forces, to include four Navy Crosses and the Congressional Medal of Honor, earned on submarine patrols in Japanese-controlled waters of the Pacific Theater during World War II. In addition, Adm. Fluckey was entitled to wear the Presidential Unit Citation and Navy Unit Commendation. As a sign of his humility, however, Adm. Fluckey often noted that the award of which he was most proud was the one that neither he nor any member of his crew ever received, the Purple Heart.
Eugene B. Fluckey was born in the District of Columbia in 1913, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1935. Then-Ensign Fluckey's first assignment was to a battleship, USS Nevada (BB-36), later damaged and sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
In 1938 Fluckey transferred from USS Nevada and entered the Navy Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut. At the time of U.S. entry into the Second World War, Fluckey was serving aboard USS Bonita (SS-165). Between December 1941 and June 1942 he participated in five war patrols on other submarines, against Japanese shipping and naval forces in the Pacific. Fluckey excelled at a variety of jobs, and gave the appearance of being cool under pressure. He advanced through the ranks, and after one war patrol as prospective commanding officer of the Gato-class submarine USS Barb (SS-220), he assumed command of that soon-to-be legendary vessel on 27 April 1944.
"He Revolutionized Submarine Warfare""He revolutionized submarine warfare," said Carl Lavo, author of the biography "The Galloping Ghost: The Extraordinary Life of Submarine Legend Eugene Fluckey," published in May 2007 by the Naval Institute Press. Lavo recently told the Los Angeles Times that "(Fluckey) was the first submarine skipper in history to employ a submarine to launch guided missiles at an enemy target," referring to missiles fired from a number of tubes arranged in a rack anchored to the Barb's deck. These missiles destroyed factories in two coastal Japanese cities, and "the Japanese thought this had to be an aerial bombardment, but they could not find any airplanes." According to biographer Lavo, "By that time, the submarine was long gone."
Also, according to author Lavo, Fluckey "thought submarines could be used for landing saboteurs on shore." In one demonstration of this technique, U.S. underwater demolition commandoes, fore-runners to modern Navy SEALs, went ashore in Japan from USS Barb and blew up a 16-car railroad train on a northern island off the Japanese mainland. Thus, according to Lavo, Fluckey is "credited for creating havoc by hit-and-run tactics, so that the Japanese never knew where the attack was coming from, and that's how he got this moniker, 'the Galloping Ghost.'"
The Galloping GhostFluckey's nickname was coined the night of 25 January 1945, when USS Barb was idling in shallow waters between two promontories off the coast of China, looking for Japanese shipping to attack. After several hours of nervous waiting, the expected Japanese convoy failed to appear. Fluckey decided to move back out to sea, turned to the executive officer and said, "No joy at this [position]. Let's gallop."
Hearing the comment, the executive officer replied: "Captain, where is the Galloping Ghost of the China coast going to gallop tonight?"
Fluckey and his submarine galloped throughout the waters of the Japanese Empire. By the end of the war, official Navy statistics credited Fluckey with five war patrols in command of USS Barb, and with sinking 25 ships totaling 179,700 tons. However, in a recent statement released by the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Fluckey is "credited with sinking 29.3 enemy ships totaling more than 146,000 tons." Among the Japanese ships sunk by USS Barb under Fluckey were an aircraft carrier, a cruiser and numerous cargo ships.
Significant AccomplishmentsFor heroism during the patrols of the USS Barb, specifically the vessel's 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th war patrols, Fluckey was awarded four Navy Crosses and the Congressional Medal of Honor. No other American fighting man has ever equaled that total.
Adm. Fluckey's Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:
"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."
Many of the littoral missions of modern submarines were prefigured by exploits in World War II. Against the Japanese, Fluckey pioneered a role for submarines in both land attack and sabotage. He took USS Barb into heavily defended coastal waters to launch torpedo, rocket, and gun bombardments, many of which inflicted severe damage on Japanese coastal installations.
In his final war patrol report as Commanding Officer of USS Barb, Fluckey had this to say about his crew:
"What wordy praise can one give such men as these; men who...follow unhesitatingly when in the vicinity of minefields so long as there is the possibility of targets... Men who flinch not with the fathometer ticking off two fathoms beneath the keel... Men who will fight to the last bullet and then start throwing the empty shell cases. These are submariners."
After the WarAfter the Second World War ended, Fluckey was ordered to command a new submarine being constructed in Groton, Connecticut, but was soon transferred to the Office of the Secretary of the Navy to work under Secretary James Forrestal on unifying the Armed Services. Not long after this, Admiral Chester Nimitz, the in-coming Chief of Naval Operations, selected Fluckey to be his Personal Aide.
Later in his distinguished career, Admiral Fluckey served as Commanding Officer of Submarine Division 52, of Submarine Squadron Five, and of the submarine tender USS Sperry (AS-12). He was selected for Flag Rank in 1960 and reported as Commander, Amphibious Group Four, and later as COMSUBPAC. He also had successful tours as the Head of the Electrical Engineering Department at the U.S. Naval Academy, as the U.S. Naval Attaché in Lisbon, Portugal, and as Director of Naval Intelligence. Adm. Fluckey retired in 1972.
Adm. Fluckey's first wife, Marjorie, died in 1979. In addition to a daughter, he is survived by his wife, Margaret; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. We send our condolences. R.I.P. Eugene Fluckey, holder of a Medal of Honor.
Until we meet again...
On August 2, 1945 the Barb arrived at Midway, her twelfth war patrol concluded. Mean- while United States military commanders had pondered the prospect of an armed assault on the Japanese homeland. Military tacticians estimated such an invasion would cost more than a million American casualties. Instead of such a costly armed offensive to end the war, on August 6th the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a single atomic Bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. A second such bomb, unleashed 4 days later on Nagasaki, Japan, caused Japan to agree to surrender terms on August 15th. On September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Harbor the documents ending the war in the Pacific were signed. The story of the saboteurs of the U.S.S. Barb is one of those unique, little known stories of World War II. It becomes increasingly important when one realizes that the 8 sailors who blew up the train at near Kashiho, Japan conducted the ONLY GROUND COMBAT OPERATION on the Japanese "homeland" of World War II. The eight saboteurs were: (L to R) Paul Saunders, William Hatfield, Francis Sever, Lawrence Newland, Edward Klinglesmith, James Richard, John Markuson, and William Walker.
WEBNOTE: Eugene Bennett Fluckey retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral, and wore in addition to his Medal of Honor, FOUR Navy Crosses...a record of awards unmatched by any living American. In 1992 his own history of the U.S.S. Barb was published in the award winning book, THUNDER BELOW. Over the past several years proceeds from the sale of this exciting book have been used by Admiral Fluckey to provide free reunions for the men who served him aboard the Barb, and their wives.
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/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.