Jack Harold Lucas: A Tragic Hero

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Fast-talking, fourteen and fresh from boot-camp, Jack Harold Lucas was bound for glory. He was a fire plug of a kid who wanted to fight so badly, that he lied about his age in order to enlist, stowed away on a troopship to get into the war, and was technically missing when he got his first shot at combat. However, this two-fisted punk managed to become the youngest American in history to receive the Medal of Honor. “On February 20, 1945, while fighting Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, the day after the invasion and a week after his seventeenth birthday, Lucas’ life was changed forever.”(Standring Pg.1) Quick to act under fire, Lucas purposely absorbed the shock of two enemy grenades in order to shield his companions. “By his inspiring action and…show more content…
There he became such a proficient machine-gunner, that he was made an instructor. He however, had always wanted to be out on the front fighting, not teaching. So Jack went AWOL from the camp and hopped on a train with a Marine combat unit heading west. Upon arriving, he answered role call and admitted his wrong doing. It made no sense to send him all the way back, so they simply assigned him to a combat unit headed for Hawaii and future action in the Pacific. “While in Hawaii, during the spring of 1943, his age was discovered, but he managed to talk his way out of discharge. He was re-assigned to drive a truck at the base depot for the next eighteen months.”(Pace Pg.2) As time passed, Lucas became more and more frustrated, clearly seeing the end of the war in sight. The now sixteen year old Marine, went AWOL from this base as well and “on January 9, 1945, he climbed aboard a shuttle boat that was taking Marines returning from liberty back to their ships in the harbor. He boarded the USS Deuel, a troop ship, and became a stowaway.”(Pace…show more content…
While working on Jack, a Japanese soldier popped up from a trench and the Corpsman shot him dead. A mortar barrage had held up the stretcher-bearers and one even dropped his end because from exhaustion, splitting Jack’s head open on a rock. Jack supposedly just smiled at the man sympathetically as if to say, I appreciate what you are trying to do. “The broken, bloody, shrapnel-riddled Jack that the stretcher-bearers had hustled away had been seventeen years old for less than a week.”(Standring Pg.2) After having a poncho placed over him and being injected with morphine, young Lucas thought he was a goner. “While being lifted onto an LST, he was almost dropped into the sea, having only been caught by the foot. After laying in the hold with hundreds of other wounded, he finally got a spot on the USS Samaritan.”(Standring Pg.5) Happily, the flag went up on Suribachi, just before Lucas was shipped off to Honolulu. Lucas went under the knife twenty two times before the doctors were finished. “Surprisingly, there are about 200 pieces of scrap iron still in him, some the size of .22-caliber bullets, which to this day, constantly set off airport metal detectors.”(Carpenter Pg.1) After close to seven months, Lucas was in good enough shape to be separated and put up for the Medal of Honor. At the time, the young man did not even know what it was, claimed “I went there to do one thing, and that was to

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