Update on RADM Fluckey
My personal hero, and the only surviving submariner who earned the Medal of Honor, has been living in Annapolis for many years. Over at Rontini's BBS, someone who knows Gene Fluckey posted an update on how he's been doing:
"...When we last visited Margaret to take her to brunch the Admiral had been moved to the skilled nursing wing -- with my parent's own health issues, I can't remember if he had had a slight stroke or not -- but the Admiral is suffering from advancing Alzheimer's and he is not always able to process information about where he is or who is with him... some days are good, some are not, according to Margaret. There was no chance in hell anyone besides his immediate family would see him in that state... again, as it should be. We had a lovely time at brunch with her, and we could easily picture Gene there with us, but he was not. A very close friend of Gene's, one of his top officers from BARB, wanted to visit him in the nursing facility, and was refused by Margaret... she is the perfect Navy Admiral's wife, she knows how to aid him, how to protect him, and now that it is required, how to protect his image and legacy. Better that we should remember a lively, talkative, and vibrant elder warrior than to see a tiny, frail, failing man in his last days..."
Read the whole thing. When Gene Fluckey finally rests his oar, our country will have lost one of her greatest heroes. I'm just glad he was able to share his story with a new generation of submariners when he was still able to do so. Although the memories may not be as clear for him now as they once were, all of us can still remember what he did for the cause of freedom:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Barb during her 11th war patrol along the east coast of China from 19 December 1944 to 15 February 1945. After sinking a large enemy ammunition ship and damaging additional tonnage during a running 2-hour night battle on 8 January, Comdr. Fluckey, in an exceptional feat of brilliant deduction and bold tracking on 25 January, located a concentration of more than 30 enemy ships in the lower reaches of Nankuan Chiang (Mamkwan Harbor). Fully aware that a safe retirement would necessitate an hour's run at full speed through the uncharted, mined, and rock-obstructed waters, he bravely ordered, "Battle station—torpedoes!" In a daring penetration of the heavy enemy screen, and riding in 5 fathoms (9 m) of water, he launched the Barb's last forward torpedoes at 3,000 yard (2.7 km) range. Quickly bringing the ship's stern tubes to bear, he turned loose 4 more torpedoes into the enemy, obtaining 8 direct hits on 6 of the main targets to explode a large ammunition ship and cause inestimable damage by the resultant flying shells and other pyrotechnics. Clearing the treacherous area at high speed, he brought the Barb through to safety and 4 days later sank a large Japanese freighter to complete a record of heroic combat achievement, reflecting the highest credit upon Comdr. Fluckey, his gallant officers and men, and the U.S. Naval Service."
Update 2326 14 Dec: This is one of my favorite pictures; it shows, from left to right, RADM Fluckey, RADM Dick O'Kane, and CAPT George Street -- three of the four Sub Force Medal of Honor awardees who survived the war. (The fourth was VADM Lawson "Red" Ramage.)