ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -Rear Adm. Eugene Fluckey, one of the Navy’s top submarine commanders in World War II and a Medal of Honor recipient, died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at age 93.
Fluckey, a 1935 graduate of the Naval Academy, sank 29 ships, including an aircraft carrier, and members of his crew once blew up a Japanese troop transport train on shore.
On the USS Barb, Fluckey’s philosophy was: “We don’t have problems – just solutions,” said Carl LaVo, who published a biography of Fluckey entitled “The Galloping Ghost.”
The Barb survived an estimated 400 shells, bombs and depth charges and Fluckey devised a method for firing rockets from a submarine, the first ship to do so, said LaVo.
Barbara F. Bove, the admiral’s daughter, said the title of the book was appropriate.
“Basically, my father patrolled the China coast to find Japanese ships and struck without warning,” Bove told The (Baltimore) Sun. “They called him the Galloping Ghost for the hell he raised.”
Retired Vice Adm. Robert McNitt, who was second-in-command on the Barb, said Fluckey would walk through the ship every day and talk to the crew.
“We worked as a team,” McNitt said. “He was fearless, but with that came sound judgment. He was deeply interested in each member of the crew and knew all 85 of them by name.”
Retired Capt. Max Duncan of Savannah, Ga., who served as a torpedo officer on the Barb, said when Fluckey gave an order, he “expected you to do it and didn’t micromanage.”
Fluckey also kept a stash of beer aboard, which was used to reward the crew if they sank a ship. In a life-threatening situation, Fluckey once calmed the crew by telling them the beer was already on ice.
“The beer didn’t last too long because we sank too many ships,” Duncan said.
The Annapolis resident died Thursday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at Anne Arundel Medical Center.
Fluckey’s wife of 42 years, the former Marjorie Gould, died in 1979. He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Margaret Fluckey, with whom he ran an orphanage in Portugal for several years after his retirement.
In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned later this month.