Thursday, June 05, 2008

Mississippi's Medal of Honor Recipient Dies

February 14, 1928 - June 5, 2008
Private First Class Jacklyn Harrell Lucas born 1928- died 2008 is a United States Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Iwo Jima campaign — for unhesitatingly hurling himself over his comrades upon one grenade and for pulling another one under himself. One of the grenades exploded and Lucas absorbed the entire blasting force of it with his own body and his helmet.

Private First Class Lucas, the youngest Marine ever to receive the United States' highest military decoration, was presented the award by President Harry S. Truman at the White House on Friday, 5 October 1945.

Early years

Jacklyn Harrell Lucas was born in Plymouth, North Carolina on 14 February 1928. He attended high school at nearby Salemburg, North Carolina and was 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.

Marine Corps service

Although only 14 years of age, muscular build, 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) high, weighing 180 pounds (82 kg), he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve without his mother's consent on 6 August 1942. He gave his age as 17, and went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, for recruit training.

During his rifle training Pvt Lucas qualified as a sharpshooter. He was next assigned to the Marine Barracks and Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. In June 1943, he was transferred to the 21st Replacement Battalion at New River, North Carolina, and one month later he went to the 25th Replacement Battalion, where he successfully completed schooling which qualified him as a heavy machine gun crewman.

He left the continental United States on 4 November 1943, and the following month he joined the 6th Base Depot of the V Amphibious Corps at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He was advanced to private first class on 29 January 1944.

With statements to his buddies that he was going to join a combat organization, PFC Lucas walked out of camp on 10 January 1945, wearing a khaki uniform and carrying his dungarees and field shoes in a roll under his arm.

He was declared absent without leave (AWOL) when he failed to return that night and a month later, when there was still no sign of him, he was declared a "deserter", and a reward offered for his apprehension. He was also reduced to the rank of private at that time.

He stowed away on board USS Deuel which was transporting units of the 5th Marine Division into combat. He surrendered to the senior troop officer present on 8 February 1945 dressed in neat, clean dungarees. He was allowed to remain, and shortly after he was transferred to Headquarters Company, 5th Marine Division. He reached his 17th birthday while at sea, six days before the heroic actions at Iwo Jima, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
On the day following the landing at Iwo Jima, he was creeping through a twisting ravine with three other men of his rifle team when the Japanese opened a hand grenade attack on them. The men jumped into two shallow foxholes. Lucas pushed a thrown hand grenade into the volcanic ash and covered with helmet,and along with his body. He was left for dead by his companions, although he was miraculously still alive. Severely wounded in the right arm and wrist, right leg and thigh, and chest, Pvt Lucas had undoubtedly saved his companions from serious injury and possible death.

He was evacuated to the hospital ship Samaritan, and then treated at various field hospitals prior to his arrival in San Francisco, California on 28 March 1945. He eventually underwent 21 surgeries. To this day, there are still about 200 pieces of metal, some the size of 22 caliber bullets, still left in Lucas — which set off airport metal detectors.

The mark of desertion was removed from his record in August of that year while he was a patient at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Charleston, South Carolina. He was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve because of disability resulting from his wounds on 18 September 1945, following his reappointment to the rank of Private First Class.

On October 5, 1945, Lucas, along with 14 other sailors and Marines (including Pappy Boyington), were presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman. In attendance at the ceremony were Lucas' mother and General George Patton, Admiral Chester Nimitz, and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal.

Lucas receives his Medal of Honor Flag from CMC Gen. Hagee.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, PFC Lucas was awarded the Purple Heart; Presidential Unit Citation; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze star; American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

On August 3, 2006, Lucas, along with 15 living Marine Medal of Honor recipients, was presented the Medal of Honor flag by Commandant of the Marine Corps General Michael Hagee. The presentation took place at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. in front of over 1,000, 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."

Medal of Honor citation

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to


UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the First Battalion, Twenty-sixth Marines, Fifth 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-plus-1 Day, Private First Class 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, Private First Class Lucas unhesitatingly hurled himself over his comrades upon one grenade and pulled the other one under him, absorbing the whole blasting force 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 Private First Class Lucas and the United States Naval Service.


1 comment:

Chevy Rose said...

On this 64th anniversary of D-Day, I imagine he was greeted by hundreds of other Heros inside Heaven's gate.


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