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HW Day 5: Jack Lucas, USMC

Jack Lucas credits his mother and father for his strong sense of patriotism. It was his patriotism, and also his aggressive, highly emotional personality, that brought him to forging his mother’s signature on enlistment papers immediately after the attack at Pearl Harbor, and joining the United States Marines when he was only 14 years old. The Marines did catch onto his age when they censored a letter he wrote to his 15 year old girlfriend. When he was threatened to return home, Lucas’s answer was he’d join the Army and give them the advantage of all the training he received as a Marine. After going through various trainings, and still being dissatisfied at having seen no combat or more specifically, no opportunities at killing the Japanese enemies, Lucas took actions into his own hands by stowing away aboard a Navy ship carrying units of the 5th Marine Division headed for combat in the Pacific. He was considered a “deserter”. While onboard, he surrendered to the senior troop officer, but they allowed him to stay. While at sea, he turned 17.The day after landing at Iwo Jima, Lucas was twisting through a ravine with 3 others from his rifle team when the Japanese opened attack. 2 enemy grenades landed nearby; Lucas quickly put his body over both. One detonated, the other did not. The men he ultimately saved thought he was dead and left. He was later found and given medical attention by another company. 250 pieces of shrapnel, including one in every major organ, were eventually found and most removed over the course of 26 operations in the months to follow. Because of his heroic actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor; he was the youngest Marine ever to receive this Honor.He was discharged from the Marines in 1945, took a position as a rep for the Veterans Administration, but later returned to military service at age 33, by completing his paratrooper training and being commissioned as Army 1st Lieutenant. Much to his disappointment, he never saw action in Vietnam.Jack Lucas died June 5, 2008.

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