Maine has a rich maritime history, and Bangor's native son, Captain Michael J. Luosey's distinguished Korean War record is part of that tradition. The Bangor High Class of 1929 graduate was Deputy Commander Naval Forces Far East under Admiral Turner Joy. Mike commanded the Korean Navy, and founded the modern Korean Marine Corps. He was in command of all allied navies as the war got underway in 1950, and he ran the Inshore Blockade and Escort Force at the age of 38. On August 6, 1951, Korean President Syngman Rhee pinned the Republic of Korea Order of Merit on Commander Michael Joseph Luosey. Since the beginning of the war in July 1950, Luosey was one of nine officers and men so honored. On another occasion, he was awarded the Military Order of the Silver Star.
In his 31 years of service, Mike was the commanding officer of five of the nine ships he was onboard during his career. He sailed on a survey ship, three destroyers, two battleships, two heavy cruisers, a supertanker, and was a Destroyer Squadron 8 Commander (two divisions), and Commander, Military Sea Transportation Service.
Michael J. Luosey was born on April 15, 1912 to his parents, Patrick J. and Delia (Muldoon) Luosey who lived on Larkin Street in Bangor, Maine. A chronology of Mike's career in the United States Navy (1929-1960) follows:
· 1929 - Graduated 4th in Bangor High School Class of 1929. Got appointment to US Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD.
· 1933 - Graduated 3rd, and honored as Flag Bearer for the Naval Academy's Class of 1933. Ensign Luosey was one of half the class of 245 that received commissions, hence a naval career.
· 1933/35 - First assignment on new Cruiser USS Portland CA 33 as a deck officer, then gunnery officer turret #3, then Assistant Navigation Officer.
· 1935-June 1937 - Ordered to destroyer USS Wickes DD75. Mike was promoted to Lieutenant Jr. Grade. The ship was mothballed in 1937, and turned over to England in 1940 in World War II.
· 1937/38 - Mike was named Commanding Officer of the survey ship USS Hannibal. This marked his first time to be solely accountable for a naval ship. Surveyed new iron ore fields in Trinidad, oil in Venezuela, and Costa Rican harbors.
· 1939/40 - Lt. Luosey was on the Battleship USS California, Flagship of the Fleet, which patrolled the Pacific Far East. Upon leaving Pearl Harbor and returning to its homeport in California in June 1940, Mike was assigned to post graduate work at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. He went on leave to Bangor. All shore duties were cancelled because of trouble brewing in Europe. The California was ordered to sea while Mike was home, but efforts to reach him failed. So his orders were changed to report to the Battleship USS Wyoming BB32 AG17.
· 1941 - On December 7 the Pearl Harbor attack found Mike teaching at the Naval Academy and responsible for two companies of Midshipmen, reporting to Vice Admiral Myron S. Tisdale, Commandant until 1942, and then to Vice Admiral Turner Joy. These key officers later called on Mike's service. Mike at once requested sea duty, but as he said in a 1980 interview with niece Delia Pooler, "I had brought in the new classes, and I had had success as a company officer because my two companies won the regimental competition my three years I was there. So I was "in" with the Commandant because, I guess, he thought it was leadership on my part. So he wouldn't let me go until we brought in the new class in 1943."
· 1943 - On October 14, Lt. Commander Luosey was named Commanding Officer of the six-month-old USS Sproston DD577. Ready for combat, he piloted Sproston from Casco Bay in Maine through the Panama Canal on November 4 to San Francisco, and with Adm. Ephraim McLean left to liberate the Philippines. They used the Samar approach, and were part of the Leyte invasion of the Lingyan Gulf of North Luzon. Sproston was the first ship to enter and open Subic Bay. Luosey was in charge of a crew of 341. According to Naval history records, "February 4, 1944, at 0230, Sproston fired her first shots in anger. She shelled Kurabu Point in the Kurabu-Zaki area of Paramushiro, acting as an anti-aircraft and as submarine screen for the cruisers. Captain Luosey issued a memo congratulating the crew for their enthusiasm and for a job well done, adding that Paramushiro was believed to be the first Japanese home island to be shelled by an American warship. [Saga II of the USS Sproston DD/DDE 577 by George Ress, 1995, page 17.]
· 1944 - On September 13, Luosey was promoted to a Commander, and while CO, the Sproston shot down nine Japanese planes and sank one submarine. Mike was the Navy's youngest captain at that time, and served 16 months on this famous fighting ship. The Sproston supported troop landings by shore bombardment, and escort for major war operations. The ship was in the Third Fleet until October 1, when it joined the Seventh Fleet.
· 1945 - February 6 Luosey took command of a new destroyer USS Bordelon DD/DDR 881 from Orange Texas shipyard. This ship was 14 feet longer for extra fuel, and two knots faster than Sproston. She was designed for the vast Pacific. After break in, the ship visited Portland, ME where Mike Luosey's sisters, Mary C. (Luosey) Pooler and Anna Luosey enjoyed dinner at the captain's table. In the Pacific, the picket ship Bordelon was in Destroyer Division 16, and escorted an aircraft carrier into Japan, then past China, and joined the Philippines Liberation celebration.
· 1947 - February 6 Cdr. M.J. Luosey flew to Bremerton, Washington, and after nine days as Chief Executive Officer, became Commanding Officer of the Heavy Cruiser Chicago CA 136. During a 1980 interview, Mike said, "My goal as a naval officer was to obtain command that ultimately would mean a capital ship which in the old Navy was battleships. I was interested only in the Line Command of the Navy surface ships. I had no interest in submarines. I had no interest in the Naval Aviation. And, when the time came and I was eligible for so-called "Major command," there were no battleships. Several options were missile cruisers and the majority were Destroyer Squadron Commanders which I did attain, but of short duration because of my hepatitis."
· 1950 - June of 1950 saw the outbreak of the Korean War. Mike was flown to Korea and on July 9 he was named Deputy Commander Far East under Admiral Turner Joy. Considerable confusion had led to Mike's assignment. Here is the naval history: "Luosey's first days were spent in extemporizing logistic support at Pusan for U.N. ships, in establishing liaison with the Army, and in gaining the confidence of the Koreans. Inshore sectors were established along both coasts south of the 37th parallel, and a detachment of Korean Marines was sailed for Kusan by LST in an attempt to hold that port. On the next day the Marines were landed, and a large store of government rice evacuated, but possession of Kusan was brief. Heavily engaged on the 17th by an entire North Korean regiment, the 600-odd Marines were lifted out two days later to begin a minor epic of landings, forced marches, engagements, and retreats, which by the end of the month had brought the survivors to Cinju. Mike himself later said that he had to work with so many different groups that he asked for and got direct reporting officers from General MacArthur's command and the Navy. History continues, "Little by little order emerged from chaos. By late July coordination with the British west coast element had been established and the Korean Navy was back in effective action."
· 1951 - August 6, Korean President Sygman Rhee awarded Korea's top two decorations: Taeguk Presidential Citation with two laurels, and the Republic of Korea Order of Merit to Cmdr. Michael J. Luosey. Mike was extremely proud of his accomplishments in Pusan and Inchon. He told his nephews about the types of small boats the ROK navy used, and they did more damage with the PT boats than with destroyers, etc.
· 1952 - June 1 the Navy reported it "relieved Commander Michael J. Luosey as Commander Republic of Korea Naval Forces (COMROK NAVFOR) and the Chief of the Naval Advisory Group ROKN on this date." The Korean Marines presented a sword to Mike that is inscribed to him in black lacquer and mother of pearl. Mike considered himself a good friend of President Rhee, having taught him square dancing, etc. Mike believed one reason for his excellent rapport, as expressed in the 1980 interview, was because he strongly believed and voiced his high regard for the intelligence, dedication, and loyalty of the Koreans under his leadership. In the 1970s, Mike was invited to return to Korea and he asked nephew Joel Pooler to join him, but Mike's health didn't permit his travel. A Korean school is said to be named after him.
· 1953/54 - After hostilities, Mike went to the Naval War College to study military strategy, and as he said, "study how staff people think." He also taught there in Rhode Island.
· 1955/56 - Captain Michael J. Luosey commanded USS Caloosahachee, a super tanker in the Atlantic Service.
· 1956 - Captain Luosey was given top responsibility as Director of Navy Recruitment where he started a high school program.
· 1958 - Captain M.J. Luosey was placed in command of Destroyer Squadron 8 (two divisions, eight ships) based at Norfolk, VA. But shortly afterwards he contracted hepatitis, and was laid up for four months.
· 1959 - Unable to continue sea service, Mike was reassigned as Commander of Military Sea Transportation Services (MSTS).
· 1960 - June - after six years as a Captain, he was offered Vice Admiral in retirement. He declined and as described by daughter Bridget who wrote: "Dad never recovered from leaving the Navy...part of why he was retired had to do with poor health. I remember when we lived in Norfolk and I was in the 5th grade (1958) Dad came back from sea and was in bed for months with hepatitis...he was the strangest color yellow and weak as a kitten. Apparently they offered him the position of Rear Admiral for his retired rank. Dad, standing on his dashed dreams and Irish pride, let them know that he didn't want to be a "tombstone Admiral" and if he couldn't work at it, he didn't want it. Mom thought more practically, and since it affected retirement benefits, etc., she thought he should take the title. Looking back...Admiral Luosey just doesn't sound the same. Dad's always been 'Captain Luosey,' and it just sounds right.
Back in the State of Maine, Mike Luosey served as executive vice president of the Augusta Chamber of Commerce, Hallowell City Manager, and Director of American Red Cross, Augusta. Mike lived in Hallowell, Maine, until his death June 29, 1998. About Mike's funeral, his daughter Bridget wrote, "Did you know that at his funeral, he had insisted on a Maine Pine casket, and then we covered his casket with Navy color flowers and a banner that said, "BEAT ARMY" (which was his favorite saying and the last three words of the Grace before meals, "Amen, Beat Army"), and as his casket was slowly wheeled out of the church, the organ played a slow and stately "Anchors Away."
Awards & Honors
Mike Luosey retired with two Navy Distinguished Service Medals, Legion of Merit with Gold Star, Bronze Star with Gold Star and Combat V, American Defense Service Medal, Fleet clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four stars, American Area Campaign, World War II Victory Medal, Japanese Occupation, China Service, Korean Campaign with eight stars, United Nations Ribbon, Philippine Liberation with two stars, Korean Presidential Citation with two laurels, and the Navy Occupation (European Clasp).
Contributors to this segment of the KWE: Mike's children, Dennis Luosey of the Augusta area and Bridget Luosey who lives in Nevada with husband Grant Siwinski; Bridget's children, Magen E. Calland who lives in Virginia with husband Paul, and Michael Everhart and his wife Laura who lived in West Gardiner, Maine, and now live in Tennessee with daughters Marguerite and Delia. Others include nephews Andrew Adam, Joel Pooler, niece Delia and their mother (Mike's youngest sister) Kay Luosey Pooler of Augusta; first cousins Michael and Patrick Lucey from Bucksport; and nephews Ronald of Holden, and Victor Pooler of Syracuse, NY, whose mother Mary C. Luosey Pooler was Mike's oldest sister. This segment uses excerpts from The Pooler Family [Chapter 13, "The Luoseys and Your Irish Ancestors"] by Victor H. Pooler, copyright 2000, Pooler & Associates, Syracuse, NY.