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Thread: Capt. "Lucky" Fluckey

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    Default 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
    hunted.

    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
    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.
    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."

  2. #2
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    When the names of the 8 selected sailors was announced it was greeted with a
    mixture of excitement and disappointment. Among the disappointed was Seaman
    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 wearg 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
    microswitch. 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,
    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 occured 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.

    1:32 A.M. 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.

    1:40 A.M. The two boats carrying his saboteurs were only halfway back to the
    Barb when the sub's machinegunner 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 microswitch.

    1:47 A.M. 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 were 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!

    On August 2, 1945 the Barb arrived at Midway, her twelfth war patrol
    concluded. Meanwhile 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 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 wears 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.

    Admiral Fluckey passed away on June 28, 2007, at age 93, of complications
    from Alzheimer's.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Bennett_Fluckey

    http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&sear...Fluckey&page=1

    http://www.amazon.com/Galloping-Ghos.../dp/1591144566

    http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08220.htm
    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."

  3. #3
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    Exclamation

    He not only was awarded the MOH, but also recieved four (4!!!!) Navy Cross awards for his and his crews exploits on Barb. Quite an obituary in Proceedings.

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    Oops, didn't read the whole thread! Sorry Chuck.

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    Amazing. Thanks for posting that Chuck.
    Bill R

    There was supposed to be an earth shattering KABOOM!

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    Didn't Edward Beach use this exploit in one of his WWII submarine stories?
    Hey! It's MY Hughniverse!

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    Ed Beach did several related stories...it may well have been in one of the collections, although I do not recall it in "Run Silent Run Deep"....
    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."

  8. #8
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    Great story Chuck. Thanks for bringing it up.

    I think there is another one about US subs sneaking in and getting gold right from under the Japanese. I cannot remember the details but I know it happened.

    JD

    PS anyone read the exploits of Felix Von
    Luckner
    "The Sea Devil" ? I think
    Lowell
    Thomas wrote it up.

    Here's the site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_von_Luckner
    Last edited by J. Dillon; 09-07-2007 at 10:37 PM.
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  9. #9
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    I read of Luckner's exploits....in the days when I was sooooooomuch younger and a little loose in the head and thought that it would be way cool to go down in a boat that deliberately sinks itself....but the moment of madness passed ever so quickly.....
    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."

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