Jack Lucas passed away peacefully on June 5, 2008. He will be missed!
Medal of Honor
World War II
Jack Lucas was a fraudulent enlistee. He was only 14 years old when he joined the Marine Corps in 1942 after falsifying his enlistment papers to reflect his age at 17. Three years later, just five days after he actually turned seventeen, he was in his second day of combat at Iwo Jima.
Forty-thousand Marines made the initial landing at Iwo Jima, suffering 5,320 casualties in the first day alone. One of the most bitter fought battles of World War II, 27 Americans received Medals of Honor for their heroism on the small Pacific Island from February 19 to March 16th, 1945. Only 13 of these Medal recipients, with an average age of 23 years, survived to wear their Medal. Jack Lucas, at seventeen, became the youngest American in this century from any branch of service, to receive our Nation's highest award. Despite the horrible wounds caused by selflessly covering two enemy grenades with his own body to save his comrades, he was one of the few to survive.
Jack Lucas is a true patriot, a man who loves our Country and has sacrificed much to preserve it. He makes frequent visits to schools and veterans organizations to speak to the public about the service and sacrifice that are required by those who live in a free society. In 1995 he was invited to Washington, DC for President Clinton's State of the Union address, where the World War II hero was introduced to a rousing standing ovation by both houses of the United States Congress. More recently, he and his wife Ruby, attended ceremonies where Jack's story was placed in the mast of a US Ship.
Jack Lucas is perhaps, best defined by the words of our President upon introducing him during that 1995 State of the Union Address:
"The last person I want to introduce is Jack Lucas from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Jack, would you stand up?
"Fifty years ago in the sands of Iwo Jima, Jack Lucas taught and learned the lessons of citizenship. On February 20, 1945, he and three of his buddies encountered the enemy and two grenades at their feet. Jack Lucas threw himself on both of them. In that moment he saved the lives of his companions and miraculously in the next instant a medic saved his life. He gained a foothold for freedom, and at the age of 17, just a year older than his grandson, who is up there with him today, and his son, who is a West Point graduate and a veteran, at 17 Jack Lucas became the youngest Marine in history and the youngest soldier in this century to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
"All these years later, yesterday, here is what he said about that day. 'Didn't matter where you were from or who you were, you relied on one another. You did it for your country.' We all gain when we give and we reap what we sow. That's at the heart of this New Covenant, responsibility, opportunity and citizenship, more than stale chapters in some remote civics book, they are still the virtue by which we can fulfill ourselves and reach our God-given potential and be like them, and also to fulfill the eternal promise of this country, the enduring dream from that first and most sacred covenant. I believe every person in this country still believes that we are created equal, and given by our Creator the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
"This is a very, very great country and our best days are still to come."
President William J.
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