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First Name: Jacklyn

Last Name: Lucas

Birthplace: Plymouth, NC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Harold

Date of Birth: 14 February 1928

Date of Death: 05 June 2008

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: 1942-45 (USMC), 1961-65 (Army)
Jacklyn Harold Lucas

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Jacklyn Harold Lucas
Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Private First Class Jacklyn Harold Lucas (14 February 1928 - 5 June 2008) was a U.S. Marine who received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during the Iwo Jima campaign in World War II. Lucas was the youngest Marine ever to receive the Medal of Honor.

Jacklyn Harold Lucas was born on 14 February 1928 in Plymouth, NC. He attended high school at nearby Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg 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, Lucas had a muscular build (5 ft. 8 in. tall, weighing 180 pounds) and 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, SC, 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, FL. In June 1943, he was transferred to the 21st Replacement Battalion at New River, NC, 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, HI. 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 UA (Unauthorized Absence) 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 was 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 attacked them. The men were in a trench when two enemy grenades landed nearby. Lucas pushed a thrown hand grenade into the volcanic ash and covered it with his rifle and his body. He reached out and pulled a second grenade beneath him. His companions had thought he died in the blast, so they left him, but he was amazingly 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. After a fellow marine medic came to his aid, he figured out that one of the grenades was a dud.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division.

Place and date: Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 February 1945.

Citation: 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 frontline on D-plus-1 day, Pfc. Lucas and 3 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 2 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. His exceptionally courageous initiative and loyalty reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. Lucas and the U.S. Naval Service.

He was evacuated to the hospital ship Samaritan, and then treated at various field hospitals prior to his arrival in San Francisco, CA, on 28 March 1945. He eventually underwent 21 surgeries. For the rest of his life, there remained about 200 pieces of metal, some the size of 22 caliber bullets, in Lucas' body - 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, SC. 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 5 October 1945, Lucas and 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, Admiral Chester Nimitz, and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal.

Later life

Lucas earned a business degree from High Point University and pledged Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He served in the U.S. Army in the 1960s as a paratrooper to conquer his fear of heights and survived a training jump in which both of his parachutes did not open. When the keel of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) was laid, Lucas placed his Medal of Honor citation in the ship's hull, where it remains sealed.

On 3 August 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, DC, 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."

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
Presidential Unit Citation
American Campaign Medal 
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 1 Bronze Star
World War II Victory Medal

Death and Burial

Private First Class Jacklyn Harold Lucas died of leukemia at a hospital in Hattiesburg, MS, on 5 June 2008 with family and friends by his side. He is buried at Highland Cemetery in Hattiesburg, Forrest County, MS.

Honoree ID: 1506   Created by: MHOH




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