This weekend, the Congressional Medal Of Honor Society is holding their annual banquet, and this year it’s in Boston. I was fortunate enough to hear two of its members speak on a talk show.
Jack Lucas (USMC) has an amazing story. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, he persuaded his mother to help him lie about his age and enlist (he was 14, but a big 14). He served throughout the war in the Pacific, with the single motivating element to “kill Japanese.” When he heard about the planned invasion of Iwo Jima, he left his unit, stowed away on a ship, and talked his way into taking part in the landing.
While in the heat of combat, the Japanese threw two grenades at Lucas and his squad. He dove on one of them and pulled the other under him. He shoved them into the volcanic ash and sand beneath him and prepared himself to die.
The ground absorbed very little of the blast and shrapnel, but just enough for this tough as hell kid to survive the blasts, but gravely wounded.
He was six days past his seventeenth birthday.
On October 5, 1945, he was brought to the White House for the presentation of the Congressional Medal of Honor. President Truman told Jack that he’d rather be a Medal of Honor winner than President, and Jack promptly offered to swap.
The war over, Jack was honorably discharged and returned home to North Carolina, where he resumed his real age.
And since he had just turned 18, he was promptly notified by his local draft board that he had to register for military service.
The Society is having its banquet tonight, in Boston. I wish to hell I could go.
I know there are plenty of men and women currently serving in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in many other places are capable of the kind of heroism Jack Lucas and his fellow Society members displayed. It’d be nice if we could hear more about them.