Capt. "Lucky" Fluckey
Probably everyone in the country but me has heard of the following account,
but I just read it for the first time today after having received it from
old USAF buddy, and decided to forward it on in
case some of you have not yet heard the story.
As I read the account, the thought kept recurring that nothing so outrageous
could possibly be true. So I checked it out after I finished reading it and
learned that it is indeed true. Click the links at the end of the account
to see for yourself.
We frequently hear of amazing accomplishments by our service men and women
in the Middle East. But the "can do" attitude of our military men/women was
definitely alive and well during WWII. Enjoy!!
This is truly an amazing WWII Naval adventure
In 1973 an Italian submarine named Enrique Tazzoli was sold for a paltry
$100,000 as scrap metal. The submarine, 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, 19 (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 didn't have problems, only solutions".
11:27 AM "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
6:07 PM 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 microswitch 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, the 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
..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
..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.
Wakan Tanka Kici Un
..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
"If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."