Reinhard Hardegen, who as a German World War II U-boat captain sank allied ships off the shores of Long Island, New York, and Florida as part of Operation Drumbeat, and who got so close to New York City, New York, that he could see its lights from his submarine’s conning tower, died June 14 in Bremen, Germany at age 105.
Hardegen sank 22 ships during five patrols and ranked number 24 on Germany’s “Aces of the Deep” list, which ranked U-boat commanders by number of ships and total tonnage sunk. His daring exploits won him the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leafs, which he received from Adolf Hitler.
Hardegen got into hot water when he gave Hitler an unsolicited opinion about the German Navy’s needs that were not being met because of resources that were being sent to land forces. Hitler was infuriated and Hardegen received a reprimand from Hitler’s chief of staff, to which Hardegen replied, "The Führer has a right to hear the truth, and I have a duty to speak it."
After the war he was held captive by the British, but he was released and went on to a successful career as a businessman and travelled widely in the United States.
You can read Hardegen’s obituary here.