Monday, September 11, 2017

The Youngest Marine to Receive The Medal of Honor Escaped Death Twice

By Alex Synder                                                                                                       
 Defense Media Activity
Think back to when you were 14 years old. What were you doing? Attending school? Playing with the neighborhood kids? Trying to keep up on your chores to earn your weekly allowance so you could afford to see a movie with friends?

For Jacklyn H. Lucas, the reality was vastly different. Because Lucas was already a Marine, serving at that age during World War II.

As a 13-year-old cadet captain at Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg, North Carolina, Lucas regularly saw headlines of the war America had recently joined. He was angered by the attacks on Pearl Harbor, but didn’t want to contribute to the cause by planting a victory garden or collecting scrap metal to be made into weapons. Lucas wanted to fight. He convinced a notary to swear he was 17 years old, and at 14, he was sworn into the Marine Corps.

After serving for several months, military officials discovered Lucas’ actual age and threatened to send him home. Lucas said he would just join the Army and was allowed to stay, being assigned to a relatively safe detail at a supply depot in Hawaii. However, three years later, he stowed away on a ship headed to Iwo Jima because he was afraid he would never see combat. He survived on bread crumbs to avoid detection by the crew, for fear they would send him back to Pearl Harbor.

After landing, Lucas embedded with 40,000 other Marines during the U.S, assault on Iwo Jima. He had no weapon in the initial charge, but was able to retrieve one off a fallen comrade before making landfall. Shortly after, while engaging the Japanese forces, Lucas crept through a treacherous, twisting ravine which ran in close proximity to a fluid and uncertain frontline.

Pfc. 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, Pfc. Lucas unhesitatingly hurled himself over his comrades upon one grenade and pulled the other under him as well, absorbing the whole blasting forces of the explosions in his own body in order to shield his comrades. The day was February 20, 1945, just one day after D-Day. Lucas was only 16.

Assumed to have been killed by his selfless actions, it was hours before troops were able to recover his body. At that time, they discovered that he was not only alive, but conscious. Lucas was immediately transported to a hospital, where he underwent a 21-hour surgery to remove fragments of the grenades from every major organ in his body. More than 200 pieces of metal remained.

Just six months later, Lucas accepted the Medal of Honor, in person, from President Harry S. Truman in a ceremony on the White House lawn.

Lucas left military service. However, in 1961 at age 33, he once again donned a uniform, this time as an Army paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.

On his first training jump, both of his parachutes failed to open. He fell 3,500 feet through the air. He not only lived, he walked away uninjured.

Two weeks later, he was back in the plane on his second training jump. That one went better. Four years later he finished his tour as a captain in the 82nd Airborne.

His adventures in surviving death now complete, Lucas ran a business outside Washington, D.C., wrote an autobiography aptly titled, “Indestructible,” met every president from Truman to Clinton, and saw his original Medal of Honor citation laid out in the hull of the USS Iwo Jima.

DoD Provides Update on Hurricane Irma Response Efforts

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2017 — The Defense Department has naval, air and ground assets ready to initiate response operations in Florida today and will continue Hurricane Irma response operations throughout the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico region, DoD spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said today in a statement.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Northern Command and the Coast Guard are closely coordinating on the management of air assets to maximize the effective unity of effort, he said. DoD will complete the evacuation of U.S. citizens from St. Martin in the British Virgin Islands today, coordinate evacuation of U.S. citizens from other British Virgin Islands, and will provide humanitarian assistance -- water, sanitation, logistics support, movement of disaster relief personnel, humanitarian commodities movement -- in response to State Department requests.

Irma is now a tropical storm and continues to weaken as it moves northwesterly into the Southeastern U.S. today. The center is located 60 miles north of Tampa, Florida, with sustained winds of 70 mph. FEMA estimates that nearly 5 million people -- 34 percent of the population -- are without power in Florida. The main water line into the Florida Keys is reported to be offline. Damage to the Keys may necessitate evacuation of the 10,000 persons who did not evacuate before the storm.

Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

-- About 4,600 service members are supporting relief operations in the region.

-- The amphibious assault ships USS Wasp and USS Kearsarge -- with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit -- and the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill are in the U.S. Virgin Islands transferring non-critical care patients and delivering food and water.

-- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will transfer British Marines in St. Croix forward to the British Virgin Islands.

-- U.S. Transportation Command continues support to the St. Martin evacuation and humanitarian assistance, and the strategic lift of commodities to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

-- Army Corps of Engineers power restoration teams, debris removal experts, temporary roofing teams, and port survey personnel are on station.

-- The Defense Logistics Agency is shipping commodities and large generators to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.


-- About 10,400 service members are supporting relief operations in the region.

-- The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln arrived off Florida's east coast last night with 24 helicopters and is prepared for operations in southern Florida and the Florida Keys this morning. The amphibious assault ships USS Iwo Jima and USS New York were expected to arrive this morning.

-- Homestead Air Reserve Base is assessed to be in good condition. The assessment of Naval Air Station Key West is ongoing.

-- The Army is pre-positioning 200 High-Water Trucks to be able to rapidly support Florida Army National Guard requirements.

-- U.S. Northern Command intends to establish airfields in southern Florida and support operations from the sea with air assets from the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York, USS San Jacinto and USS Abraham Lincoln.

-- Army Corps of Engineers power teams, debris removal teams, temporary roofing teams and port survey personnel are on alert and ready in Florida and Georgia.

-- The Defense Logistics Agency will support distribution of over 12 million meals over the next 10 days. All fuel requirements are met.

Evacuation of American Citizens

-- U.S. Southern Command has coordinated the evacuation of 1,904 persons -- including 35 foreign nationals -- over the past three days. DoD and the State Department plan to evacuate all remaining U.S. citizens requesting evacuation today.

-- Overnight, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved a State Department request to evacuate U.S. citizens from the British Virgin Islands.

Almost 10K Total Army Personnel Engaged in Irma Response

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2017 — The Total Army, which includes active duty, Reserve, and Army National Guard personnel, remains involved in or prepared to support state, territory and other federal agencies as part of Hurricane Irma relief operations, Army spokesman Col. Patrick Seiber said yesterday.

“Governors are best postured to determine the needs of their residents and establish response priorities,” he said. The state governors are using Army National Guardsmen to help meet those needs.

“The Army has pre-positioned or is in the process of positioning equipment and personnel in the affected areas to ensure adequate resources are readily available if needed,” Sieber added.

As of 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time yesterday, the Total Army response includes the following:

-- The Army response for Hurricane Irma involves more than 9,900 soldiers and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilians in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S.

-- The Army has six aircraft, about 500 trucks and more than 80 generators committed to relief efforts with more than 150 aircraft, almost 600 generators, 150 boats and nearly 3,000 trucks on standby to support response efforts if called upon.

-- Army National Guardsmen from Florida, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are on State Active Duty status and are either responding or prepared to respond to each governor’s priorities. Additionally, Army National Guard units in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas are conducting routine inactive-duty training that they will utilize to prepare for a Hurricane Irma response if required.

-- The Army Corps of Engineers is already working in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to assist with power restoration efforts and have teams on standby to assist in Florida if needed. The Corps is also monitoring conditions at the Herbert Hoover Dike around the waters of Lake Okeechobee, Florida, and will continue to provide expert status updates.

-- The Army also has active-duty officers assigned with Federal Emergency Management Agency Regions II, IV, and V Headquarters to provide expert military advice on storm response efforts.