Ever since I was a kid, I had a fascination with World War II. One of the games that I played as a teenager was a game on the Commodore 64 called "Silent Service". That led me to an interest in submarines. Also at the time, I read a series of fictional books about the submarine service by Edward Beach. The most famous of those being "Run Silent, Run Deep". While the books were fictional, many of the stories were based on his experiences as a submariner. Several years ago, I picked up a book called "Thunder Below" by Rear Admiral Eugene Fluckey. It was about his career as the commander of the USS Barb.
Fluckey was excited to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor until the requirements for one dawned him. Basically the part about carelessly disregarding his life because to him that meant he was sacrificing his boat and subsequently his men. After the war, he was asked what his proudest accomplishment during the war was, he said that it was the fact that none of his crew were awarded the Purple Heart, meaning that none of his crew were wounded or killed in combat.
The Purple Heart thing was no small feat given the Barb's record during the war. This is a picture I took of her battle flag which was at the Submarine Museum in Groton. Her crew members were awarded a number of Silver and Bronze Stars for their actions. They managed to sink a Japanese Aircraft Carrier while it was out on sea trials. They also managed to sink a German ship during one of her patrols in the Atlantic. They managed to pluck several downed aviators from the sea. If I remember correctly, they even rescued a ship of POWs. She also had the first distinction of being the first submarine to launch rockets at enemy targets ashore. In addition to the Presidential Unit Citation, she would receive the Naval Unit Citation and eight battlestars. After the war, the Barb was sent to Italy and renamed the Enrico Tazzoli. She would serve the Italian Navy until 1972 after which she was scrapped.
You will notice that I use the term boat instead of ship in this post. All submarines are known as boats by their crews.