b. 14/02/1928 Plymouth, North Carolina. d. 05/06/2008 Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 20/02/1945 Iwo Jima, Japan.
Lucas was born in Plymouth, North Carolina on February 14, 1928. After his father, a tobacco farmer, died when he was ten, his mother sent him to nearby Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg. He rose to be a cadet captain, and was the captain of the football team. He was an all-around sportsman, also taking part in baseball, softball, basketball, boxing, wrestling, horseback riding, trap and skeet shooting, and hunting.
Lucas was only 14 years of age, having a muscular build, 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) tall and weighing 180 pounds (82 kg), when he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve at Norfolk, Virginia without his mother's consent on August 8, 1942. He gave his age as seventeen and forged his mother's name, and was sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina for recruit training.
He was next assigned to the Marine Barracks at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. In June 1943, he was transferred to the 21st Replacement Battalion at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, and one month later he went to the 25th Replacement Battalion, and successfully completed schooling at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina which qualified him as a heavy machine gun crewman. He was next sent by train to San Diego with his unit. He left the continental United States on November 4, 1943, and the following month he joined the 6th Base Depot of the V Amphibious Corps at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On January 29, 1944, he was promoted to private first class.
Lucas earned a business degree from High Point University and was initiated into the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity (Delta Omega Chapter). He joined the U.S. Army in 1961 and served in the 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper to conquer his fear of heights, and survived a training jump in which neither of his two parachutes opened. He volunteered for Vietnam, but was not allowed to go there and ended his time as a captain in the army in 1965 at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, training troops for the Vietnam War.
When the keel of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) (christened in 2000) was laid, Lucas placed his Medal of Honor citation in the ship's hull, where it remains sealed.
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.
BURIAL LOCATION: HIGHLAND CEMETERY, HATTIESBURG, MISSISSIPPI.
Lot 47, Section 32
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