While on its first war patrol, the USS Tirante (SS-420), commanded by Lieutenant Commander George Street, made the fateful decision to enter enemy-held Cheju harbor on Quelpart Island (Jeju, South Korea) on the night of April 14, 1945. Fully aware of the great risks he was taking in a shallow harbor that included mines, armed combatants, and surface radar, Street slid the Tirante quietly into the harbor. There, at anchor, he found the 4000-ton Japanese merchant ship Juzan Maru. After firing two torpedoes into the transport ship filled with ammunition, Street reported in his logbook that “A great mushroom of white blinding flame shot 2,000 feet into the air. Not a sound was heard for a moment, but then a tremendous roar flattened our ears against our heads. The jackpot, and no mistake!” Illuminated by the huge column of flames, two Japanese Mikura-class frigates got underway to attack the American intruder. Street deftly turned his Tench-class submarine about and headed for the harbor’s exit. With the ships rapidly approaching, Street’s men fired aft torpedoes and sank both of the pursuing frigates. Reaching the 10-fathom line at flank speed, the Tirante slipped under the waves and escaped.
Street’s first patrol in the Tirante, capped by his bold actions in Cheju harbor, earned a Presidential Unit Citation for his boat and the Medal of Honor for himself. Street would later say that he treasured the Presidential Unit Citation more than the Medal of Honor “because every man was there with us.”
Street would make one more patrol in the Tirante before war’s end and the sub would be credited with 8 sunk Japanese vessels totaling 15,886 tons.
Street was a native of Richmond, Virginia and a 1937 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. After passing away in 2000, Street was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.