William F. Lukes

William F. Lukes

William F. Lukes (19 February 184713 December 1923) was a United States Navy sailor and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the 1871 Korean Expedition.


William F. Lukes enlisted in the U.S. Navy from Tianjin, China and served as a Landsman onboard USS Colorado in Company D as part of the Korean Expedition. On 11 June 1871, during the capture of the Han River forts on Ganghwa Island, the leader of the American attack, Lieutenant Hugh McKee, was mortally wounded. Landsman Lukes and two other sailors, Seth Allen and Thomas Murphy, attempted to rescue Lt. McKee but encountered heavy resistance. In the course of the ensuing hand-to-hand fight, Allen and Murphy were killed. Lukes suffered a severe cut to the head but continued to fight; he survived the engagement. For his actions on that occasion, Lukes was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Before leaving the Navy, William Lukes obtained the rank of Seaman. He died at the age of 76 and is buried in Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, California.

Medal of Honor citation

Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1846, Bohemia. Enlisted at: Tientsin, China. G.O. No.: 180, 10 October 1872.


Served with Company D during the capture of the Korean forts, 9 and 10 June 1871. Fighting the enemy inside the fort, Lukes received a severe cut over the head.

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