There were a lot of stories of selflessness, bravery, and heroism, especially during those times of war with the men and women who would not hesitate to offer a helping hand, other times ever their own lives, to those who were in need and without waiting for anything in return, be it a reward or recognition. That was the story of the youngest Medal of Honor recipient of World War II, Jacklyn Harrell Lucas, who did not hesitate to throw himself over a grenade, and then another to save his comrades.

Birth of a Hero

Jacklyn Harold Lucas was born on Valentine’s Day year 1928 in Plymouth, North Carolina. He was 10 when his father died, which prompted his mother to send him to Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg. He stood pretty literally with his older-looking appearance compared to his classmates: taller and athletic physique. Thus, he rose to be a cadet captain and the captain of their football team. In addition, he participated in several other sports like baseball, boxing, basketball, softball, wrestling, horseback riding, hunting, and trap and skeet shooting.

It was common during wars for papers to be forged so that age could be faked, and that was precisely what happened to Lucas after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, which marked the official entrance of the United States into the World War II. At that time, Jack Lucas was 13. In August 1942, at 14, Lucas enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve at Norfolk, Virginia. He had forged parental consent with his mother’s name written after bribing a notary. That, plus his 5 feet and 8 inches height, 180 pounds weight, and muscular build, convinced the recruiters that he was indeed 17 years old as he was claiming. He then qualified as a sharpshooter.

FC Jacklyn H. Lucas, USMC, Medal of Honor recipient for heroic actions at the Battle of Iwo Jima. (The original uploader was ERcheck at English Wikipedia., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

His next stop was to the Marine barracks at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, and then 21st Replacement Battalion at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina. After a month, he completed the schooling at Camp Lejeune under the 25th Replacement crewman, where he qualified as a heavy machine gunner. At this point, no one still suspected that they accepted a minor kid as a full-fledged Marine. On November 4, 1943, he left the United States and joined the 6th Base Depot of the V Amphibious Corps at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After more than two months, he was promoted to private first class.