US NAVY WORLD WAR II Torpedoman's Mate 1st Class, John W. Fluker MIA/KIA Official Date of Death: December 07, 1945 Hometown: Phoebus, Virginia Service # 2657183 Awards: Purple Heart, Navy Presidential Unit Citation W/Star Navy Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia Captain: Richard H. O'Kane MIA/KIA
Ship: USS TANG SS-306 Mission: Fifth war patrol Mission Date: 25-Oct-44 Location: Formosa Strait near Turnabout Island Cause: Sunk by circular run of own torpedo Crew: of 78 MIA/KIA 9 Survivors POW
The story of Tang's fate comes from the report of her surviving commanding officer. After a refit, Tang stood out to sea on 24 September for her fifth war patrol. October 25 the 24th and last torpedo was fired. It broached and curved to the left in a circular run. Tang fishtailed under emergency power to clear the turning circle of the torpedo, but it struck her abreast the aft torpedo room approximately 20 seconds after it was fired. The explosion was violent, and men as far forward as the control room received broken limbs. The ship went down by the stern with the after three compartments flooded. Of the nine officers and men on the bridge, including O'Kane, three were able to swim through the night until picked up eight hours later. One officer escaped from the flooded conning tower, and was rescued with the others.
The submarine bottomed at 180 ft (55 m) and the thirty survivors crowded into the forward torpedo room as the aft compartments flooded, intending to use the forward escape trunk. Publications were burned, and all assembled in the forward room to escape. The escape was delayed by a Japanese patrol which dropped depth charges, and started an electrical fire in the forward battery. Beginning at 6:00 AM on 25 October, using the Momsen Lung, "the only known case" where it was used, thirteen men escaped from the forward torpedo room. By the time the last had exited, the heat from the battery fire was so intense, paint on the bulkhead was scorching, melting, and running down. Of the 13 men who escaped, only nine reached the surface, and of these, five were able to swim until rescued. A total of 78 men were lost. Those who escaped the submarine were greeted in the morning by the sight of the bow of the transport sticking straight out of the water.
Nine survivors, including O'Kane, were picked up the next morning by Japanese frigate CD-34. Survivors of Tang's previous sinkings were on board, and they beat the men from Tang. O'Kane stated, "When we realized that our clubbing and kickings were being administered by the burned, mutilated survivors of our handiwork, we found we could take it with less prejudice." The nine captives were placed in prison camps until the end of the war.