Rear Admiral Eugene Fluckey, USN (Ret.) has the most decorations of any living American veteran
, notably four Navy Crosses and the Medal of Honor
Fluckey was born in the District of Columbia
and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy
in June 1935. At the beginning of World War II
, he was an officer on the submarine USS Bonita (SS-165). Aboard Bonita from June 1941 until August 1942, he participated in five war patrols against the Japanese
in the Pacific
After one war patrol as prospective commanding officer
of the Gato-class submarine
USS Barb (SS-220), he assumed command on 27 April 1944. For heroism during the ship’s eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth war patrols
, he was awarded four Navy Crosses and the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is also entitled to wear the ribbons of the Presidential
Unit Citation and Navy Unit Commendation
awarded to the Barb for those actions.
Against the Japanese, Fluckey pioneered a role for submarines in both land attack
. He took Barb into heavily defended coastal waters to launch torpedo, rocket, and gun bombardments, many of which inflicted severe damage on Japanese coastal installations
. On one occasion, he even sent a party of commandos
ashore in rubber boats to destroy a 16-car train with demolition charges. This was the only invasion
of the Japanese mainland by Americans during the war.
In December 1945, Admiral Chester Nimitz
, the in-coming Chief of Naval Operations
, selected him 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 and as the U.S. Naval Attache in Lisbon, Portugal
. He retired in 1972.
In 1992, Admiral Fluckey recounted his WWII patrols on Barb in the book, Thunder Below!, which won the prestigious
Samuel Eliot Morison prize for Best Naval Literature
in 1993. Still healthy
and active at age 85, Admiral Fluckey works on the behalf of more than 80 charitable
and non-profit organizations.