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Posted on Oct 19, 2007 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Obituary – Rear Admiral Eugene Bennet Fluckey

By Brandon Neff

Rear Admiral Eugene Bennet Fluckey (October 5, 1913 – June 28, 2007)

Eugene Fluckey was the most decorated submariner in US Naval history. As commander of the USS Barb (SS-220), he sunk more tonnage than any other US skipper, a total of seventeen ships including the Japanese carrier, Unyo.  He was the only American submarine skipper to fire surface rockets from his submarine at targets on shore and even sent a landing party ashore to blow up a Japanese train. This was the only time during World War II that American troops set foot on the Japanese home islands. His exploits earned him the Navy Cross four times.


He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his daring approach on Mamkwan Harbor where 30 enemy ships were docked. In only 5 fathoms of water, he fired the bow and stern tubes, obtaining eight hits, and made a one hour escape run at full speed through uncharted, mined and rock-obstructed waters.

In his book, Thunder Below! (1992), Fluckey argues that his most praiseworthy deed was bringing his crew back safe and sound from each patrol.

USS Barb

Born in Washington D.C., he was appointed to the Naval Academy in 1931. After assignments aboard a battleship and destroyer, he reported for instruction at Submarine School in 1938.  He completed five war patrols on Bonita (SS-165) before returning for graduate instruction. After one patrol aboard Barb, he assumed command on April 27, 1944. After the war, Fluckey was selected to be the personal aide to Chester Nimitz. He later returned to submarines for nearly a decade before accepting a position at the Naval Academy. In 1960 he was selected for the rank of Rear Admiral.

Fluckey died in Annapolis, Maryland. He was 93.


  1. I am reading Admiral Fluckey’s “Thunder Below” at the suggestion of Commander Thomas Pruzinowski, USN. He led me on a tour of the Nuclear Submarines Rhode Island and Georgia last year at King’s Bay. It was an experience I will never forget.
    I was searching the web to find out how to pronounce Admiral Fluckey’s name. I ran across this wonderful obituary celebrating a hero’s life and accomplishments that embody the true American spirit. I rank him on the same level as Generals Patton and MacArthur for his intelligence, leadership and fearless personal drive in the face of “military convention”. I wish every American school child and citizen could learn of this incredible human being.
    Art Kelly, MC/USAF

  2. Margaret,
    You must know that even as an “Airdale, that helped steal his “beloved Dolphins at SUBPAC in 1964”, He will always be my most beloved Naval hero.
    What a pleasure it was for me to speak with you and the Admiral for over 9 years.
    I wish you and your family the very best and I love you all.
    Dick Benson

  3. I am an ex RAAF National Service Trainee ,RAAF Amberley Qld Australia in 1956. I am presently on the committee at the Epping RSL sub-Branch in Sydney and I stumbled onto the story Of Commander (then) Eugene Fluckey in “Thunder Below”.(his accounts in the Pacific)
    Why haven’t we heard more about this amazing Naval man, his exploits in WW2 in the Pacific need to be read by every school child to understand risks taken by this man and to not only be in command of the USS Barb and to undertake such dangerous missions and above all bring his very loyal crew safely home . Above all to have in a little over 12 months of operations sink the greatest amount of enemy tonnage including a Japanese Train. I am presenting a talk on his & The USS Barbs exploits at our monthly meeting August 2013.
    Admiral Eugene Bennett Fluckey we salute you

  4. As a former U.S.Navy P.O. I read Adm Fluckey’s book with great interest. This hero deserves all the praise he has been attributed to. Other Generals that have movies made of them certainly deserve their recognition but ADM FLUCKEY in his low key way outshines them all as shown by his LOVE of his shipmates and his sincere way of always bearing in mind their safety and advice. God Bless you Sir and R.I.P on your eternal watch.

    Joel Garyn TE2