Friday, June 06, 2008

Private First Class Jacklyn Harold Lucas, Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division.

WWII vet who earned Medal of Honor at 17 dies
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Jack Lucas, who at 14 lied his way into military service during World War II and became the youngest Marine to receive the Medal of Honor, died Thursday in a Hattiesburg, Miss., hospital. He was 80.
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The Story of Jack Lucas
by William Standring

Fourteen and fresh from boot camp, Jacklyn Lucas was bound for glory.

THE YOUNGEST AMERICAN so far to win the Medal of Honor was a two-fisted, fire-plug of a kid who wanted so badly to fight he lied about his age to enlist, stowed away on a troopship to get into the war, and was at least technically AWOL when he got his shot at combat. He was, of course, a Marine – Private First Class Jacklyn Harold Lucas, Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division.
Lucas’s story is as well begun as anywhere "during," to quote his citation, "action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 February 1945."
As Lucas recalls, he’d come ashore at Red Beach with the third or fourth wave in a four-man fire team. They fought across the pork-chop shaped island’s western waist and dug in for the night. Early the next afternoon, the commendation says, "while creeping through a treacherous twisting ravine which ran in close proximity to a fluid and uncertain front line on D- plus- I -day, PFC Lucas and three other men were suddenly ambushed by a hostile patrol which savagely attacked with rifle fire and grenades. "
Quick to act when the lives of the small group were endangered by two grenades which landed directly in front of them, PFC Lucas unhesitatingly hurled himself over his comrades upon 1 grenade and pulled the other under him, absorbing. the whole blasting forces of the explosions in his own body in order to shield his companions from the concussion and murderous flying fragments. By his inspiring action and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice, he not only protected his comrades from certain injury or possible death but also enabled them to rout the Japanese patrol and continue the advance."
The broken, bloody, shrapnel-riddled soldier the stretcher-bearers hustled away had been 17 for less than a week."
Maybe," a surgeon said, "he was too damned young, and too damned tough to die." That was offshore aboard the hospital ship Samaritan, when it began to look as if Lucas would live. Before the doctors were done, he’d go under the knife 22 times. There are still about 200 pieces of scrap iron in him, some the size of .22-caliber bullets. Lucas sets off airport metal detectors
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Posted: Thursday, June 05, 2008 12:20 PM by Petra Cahill
Jack Lucas was a cadet captain in the military school where his mother had enrolled him after his father’s death when he heard radio reports of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The next day he promised his mother that if she let him enlist, he would come home after the war and finish his education—but he wound up forging her signature on the consent form because she would have to lie for him. Lucas, big for his age, told the Marine recruiters he was seventeen. Shortly before being sent to the training center at Parris Island, South Carolina, he turned fourteen.

Troops were moving out to Hawaii, but because of his experience in military school, Lucas was ordered to stay behind and drill new recruits. He knew his buddies were ultimately headed for combat, so he hopped onto the train with them—in effect going AWOL to get into the war. Once in Hawaii, he managed to convince officers that he was there because of a clerical error.
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Pretty amazing, right? A lot for one lifetime, right? But that's not all. Yeah, he finished high school, and went to college. He lived a colorful life and married three times. But my favorite part?
After the war, Lucas earned a business degree from High Point University in North Carolina and raised, processed and sold beef in the Washington, D.C., area. In the 1960s, he joined the Army and became a paratrooper, Drum said, to conquer his fear of heights. On a training jump, both of his parachutes failed.
"He was the last one out of the airplane and the first one on the ground," Drum said


Fair winds and following seas to a great Marine and soldier.
The Armorer's post.

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