Jacklyn Harold “Jack” Lucas MOH

b. 14/02/1928 Plymouth, North Carolina. d. 05/06/2008 Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 20/02/1945 Iwo Jima, Japan.

Jacklyn H Lucas MOH

Lucas was born in Plymouth, North Carolina, on February 14, 1928. After his father, a tobacco farmer, died when he was ten, his mother sent him to nearby Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg. He rose to be a cadet captain, and was the captain of the football team. He was an all-around sportsman, also taking part in baseball, softball, basketball, boxing, wrestling, horseback riding, trap and skeet shooting, and hunting.

On August 8, 1942, Lucas enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve at Norfolk, Virginia, forging his mother’s name on the parental consent form falsely giving his age as 17 and bribing a notary. He was, in fact, only 14 years old, but was 5 ft 8 in (173 cm) and 180 pounds (82 kg) with a muscular build. He was sent directly to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, for recruit training. During his rifle qualification, he qualified as a sharpshooter.

He left the continental United States on November 4, 1943, and the following month he joined the 6th Base Depot of the V Amphibious Corps at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On January 29, 1944, he was promoted to private first class. On January 10, 1945, according to statements he made to his comrades, Lucas walked out of camp to join a combat organization wearing a khaki uniform and carrying his dungarees and field shoes in a roll under his arm. He was declared UA (Unauthorized Absence) when he failed to return that night. He stowed away on board the USS Deuel, which was transporting the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines of the 5th Marine Division to Iwo Jima. On February 8, the day before he would have been placed on the Marine Corps “deserter list”, he turned himself in to Marine Captain Robert Dunlap, commanding officer of C Company. He was taken by Dunlap to the battalion’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel C. Pollock, who assigned him to Dunlap’s rifle company as a rifleman; his punishment for going UA was an administrative reduction in rank to private. On February 14, Lucas had his 17th birthday while at sea, five days before the invasion of Iwo Jima began.

On February 19, Lucas participated in the 5th Division’s landing on Iwo Jima with C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines. On February 20, Lucas and three Marines who were members of a four-man fire team from one of C Company’s platoons were creeping through a twisting ravine towards or at an enemy airstrip when they spotted an enemy pillbox and took cover in a trench. They then spotted 11 Japanese soldiers in a parallel trench (they had a tunnel to there from the pillbox) and opened fire on them with rifles. The Japanese also opened fire and threw two grenades inside the Marines’ trench in front of them. Lucas spotted the grenades on the ground in front of his comrades and yelled “grenades”. He then jumped over a Marine and dove for them, jamming one of them into the volcanic ash and soft sand with his rifle and covering it with his body, while reaching out and pulling the other one beneath him. One grenade exploded, tossing Lucas onto his back and severely wounding him in the right arm and wrist, right leg and thigh, and chest. He was still conscious and barely alive after the blast, holding in his left hand the other grenade, which did not explode. His three comrades were unharmed, and the Japanese soldiers in their trench were all killed. The three Marines left, believing Lucas was dead.

Lucas was found by Marines from another unit passing by who called for Navy corpsmen who attended to his wounds and protected him with a carbine from being shot and killed by a Japanese soldier in the trench. He was evacuated by stretcher bearers to the beach, onto an LST to a cargo ship used as a hospital (all the hospital ships were full) and then to the hospital ship Samaritan. He was treated at various field hospitals prior to his arrival in San Francisco, California, on March 28, 1945. He eventually underwent 21 surgeries. For the rest of his life, there remained about 200 pieces of metal, some the size of 22 calibre bullets, in his body, which frequently set off airport metal detectors. In August, the mark of attempted desertion was removed from his record while he was a patient at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Charleston, South Carolina. On September 18, he was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve because of disability resulting from his wounds following his reappointment to the rank of private first class.

On October 5, 1945, Lucas, three sailors and ten other Marines, including Robert Dunlap, his former company commanding officer on Iwo Jima, were presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Those in attendance at the ceremony included Lucas’s mother and brother, Admiral Chester Nimitz and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal.

Lucas earned a business degree from High Point University and was initiated into the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity (Delta Omega Chapter). He joined the United States Army in 1961 and served in the 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper to conquer his fear of heights. He reportedly survived a training jump in which both of his parachutes malfunctioned. He volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War, but was not allowed to go, and ended his time as a captain in 1965 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, training younger troops who would see action in Vietnam.

After his military service ended, Lucas married, fathered several children and established a profitable chain of butcher shops in Maryland. When the keel of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) (christened in 2000) was laid, Lucas placed his Medal of Honor citation in the ship’s hull, where it remains sealed.

On August 3, 2006, Lucas, along with 15 other living Marine Medal of Honor recipients, was presented the Medal of Honor flag by Commandant of the Marine Corps General Michael Hagee at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., in front of over 1,000 people, including family, friends and Marines. Lucas said of the ceremony, “To have these young men here in our presence — it just rejuvenates this old heart of mine. I love the Corps even more knowing that my country is defended by such fine young people.”

Lucas died at a hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on June 5, 2008, of leukemia, with family and friends by his side.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 February 1945. While creeping through a treacherous, twisting ravine which ran in close proximity to a fluid and uncertain front line on D-day plus one, 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 one 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. His exceptionally courageous initiative and loyalty reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. Lucas and the U.S. Naval Service.