|Image courtesy of the US Marines|
Jacklyn H. Lucas is the youngest Medal Of Honor recipient since the Civil War. At the stubborn age of 14 his mature build of 5 foot 8 inches tall and 180 pounds allowed him to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve. Determined to fight Japanese, Jacklyn eventually went AWOL stowing away on the USS Deuel to pursue his goal of making it to the Pacific front. Five days after his 17th birthday, Jacklyn landed on Iwo Jima.
It was D-Day plus one, when Jacklyn just barely 17 years old preformed the self sacrificing act, which resulted in the Medal Of Honor.
Jacklyn's citation reads:
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. Harry S. TrumanThe island of Iwo Jima is made from volcanic rock and sand. Jacklyn's quick thinking to bury one grenade in the sand with his rife as he laid his body over the second saved his life, and the lives of his Brothers. The volcanic ash absorbed much of the blast of the first grenade, while the second grenade was a dud. Jacklyn had extensive damage to his body, resulting in his eventual discharge from the Marines.
When discharged Jacklyn was the recipient of the Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic- Pacific Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star, and the World War II Victory Medal.
After recovering from his wounds, Jacklyn enrolled in high school, graduated, and proceed in his education until he graduated from college. After college he joined the Army, becoming a Paratrooper to conquer his fear of heights. Jacklyn even survived a jump where both of his parachutes failed to open.
It is clear Jackyn Lucas was made from a special breed of man. The kind of man who went after what he wanted with the tenacity of a Bull Shark, never letting little things like age, logistics, or fear stand in his way. At the adventure filled age of 80, Jacklyn died of leukemia surrounded by his friends and family, something not every Hero gets to experience.