It was February 20, 1945, and 17-year-old Private Jack Lucas and three of his fellow Marines were engaged in a fierce firefight with Japanese soldiers on the island of Iwo Jima. Then two grenades landed in the trench where Jack and his comrades were holed up. Unless somebody reacted with lightning speed, it looked like curtains for all four of them.
Jacklyn Harrell “Jack” Lucas was born on St. Valentine’s Day in 1928 in Plymouth, North Carolina. His father worked as a tobacco farmer but died when Lucas was just 10 years of age. Subsequently, Lucas went off the rails. Later, he remembered those times in an interview published in a 1996 issue of Marine Corps Magazine.
“I was kind of shattered to lose my father,” Lucas remembered. He continued, “I guess I just resented a lot of things and that loss. I was a mean kid.” But his mother sent the 11-year-old Lucas to Edwards Military Academy in Salemburg, North Carolina, and according to him, “that good discipline kind of straightened me out.”