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After being one of three American submarines out of a six boat pack to return, his Flotilla Commander said "You were really lucky, Fluckey!" and the nickname "Lucky Fluckey" stuck. But Gene Fluckey was more than merely lucky - he was a fire breather the equal of any on the high seas in World War II - and better than most. A daring and highly resourceful Skipper, he won more medals, awards and decorations than any other American submariner ever in the history of the United States Navy!
Known also as the "Galloping Ghost of the China Coast", Fluckey determined that the reason he wasn't seeing much Japanese shipping offshore was that the convoys were hugging the coast in shallow waters in the daytime and hiding up rivers for the nights. So - without charts, without intelligence on Japanese minefields - he went up a river in search of Japanese shipping - and he found it! There was a convoy at anchor, so Fluckey fired six forward and swung USS BARB around, firing four stern tubes - then heading at flank speed, down this river with no charts and no idea where there may be minefields, in the blackness of night, heading for the open sea.
He joked that while people say that life begins at forty, he felt that life really began at twenty - twenty fathoms, that is. He had to run one hour and fifteen minutes at flank speed to reach water deep enough to pull the plug on USS BARB and get away from the hot pursuit the Japanese shore installations were throwing at him.
For this action, Fluckey was decorated with the Medal of Honor.
On another patrol, while operating off the Japanese Home Islands, Fluckey watched a Japanese troop train going along the coast night after night, bringing fresh troops to a debarkation point to be sent against American troops on Okinawa - and he decided to stop the train. He designed a pressure switch that would detonate an explosive charge when the train rolled over it, and he selected eight of his crew to go ashore and plant the charges. In the possibility that the men might have to be left behind, Fluckey made certain that all eight had been Boy Scouts and could fend for themselves in the wilderness. That night, the troop train was blown to bits as it hit the pressure switch that Fluckey designed. This was the only time in World War II that American military men set foot on the Home Islands of Japan. For this action, Fluckey was awarded one of his four Navy Cross medals.
Rear Admiral Fluckey served in many capacities including ComSubPac and also ten years on the Advisory Board of Sharkhunters, and he is the most highly decorated American submariner EVER and is the most highly decorated American military man living today.
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