"Eugene T. Lukowski - TM2c"

July 23, 1944 Casualty

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Gene Lukowski was one of the ship's original torpedomen, as he was part of the commissioning crew of May 10, 1943. At that time he was Torpedoman 3rd Class Lukowski, USNR. He would participate in the ship's initial shakedown cruise, its time in the Aleutians, the ship's initial trips to Australia and the landings on Los Negros in the Admiralty islands.

By the time the ship returned to Mare Island for repairs in May 1944, Gene Lukowski's rating had increased to Torpedoman 2nd Class. At this time, a number of experienced sailors left the ship and about 100 new sailors, fresh from boot camp reported aboard, as well as a new Commanding Officer. Training exercises became the focus of much attention.

Gene Lukowski - TM2c
Gene Lukowski

On July 23, 1944, the ship was exercising in Hawaiian waters, bombarding targets ashore. The exercise called for the ship to shift fire from shore bombardment to a target sleeve towed by aircraft. The ship's Chief Torpedoman's Mate had been stationed on the #1 torpedo tube mount, lying down on the torpedo mount operating some communications gear during the drill. The Chief had been there for a couple of hours, or so. A few minutes prior the accident Gene Lukowski suggested that the Chief take a break. Gene took the communication's gear and laid down in the same spot the Chief had been. Minutes later, a 5-inch shell from the #3 5-inch gun struck the antenna spreader on the #2 stack. The blast killed four sailors instantly. Gene was mortally wounded. 13 other sailors were also injured.

The Chief Torpedoman's Mate checked on Lukowski and saw that he had a severe head wound. When the Chief spotted the ship's doctor, the Chief asked the doctor if he'd seen Lukowski. The doctor advised he had seen Lukowski, but there was nothing he could do. The doctor needed to tend to those for whom treatment would make a difference.

The ship's deck log notes that the accident occurred at 1148. At 1400, as the ship sped towards Pearl Harbor to seek care for wounded personnel, Gene Lukowski succumbed to his injuries. Gene is buried at the Punchbowl National Memorial and Cemetery of the Pacific.

Gene Lukowski Grave

More information on the events of July 23, 1944 can be found at the links below.

Deck Logs July 23, 1944
Accident Investigation - Board of Inquiry

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