Jacklyn “Jack” Lucas was the youngest American to receive the Medal of Honor in WWII at age 17. Throughout his life, he seemingly defied all odds. Here are the five interesting facts about this indestructible marine:
1. At 14 years old, he forged his mother’s signature to join the Marines
Fortunately, Lucas looked older than his age. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds, so he didn’t raise much suspicion as he has a muscular build like other 17-year-olds.
2. He stowed away onboard USS Deuel which was transferring marines to Iwo Jima
Before that, his commanders eventually learned that he had lied about his age. He was relegated to driving a truck around Pearl Harbor.
However, he stowed away on board the USS Deuel, thinking it was his only chance to join the front lines as the war was drawing to a close.
3. When the Japs threw two live grenades on the trench where Lucas and other marines were positioned, he threw himself on the two explosives, saving his comrades
One of the grenades detonated, sending hundreds of shrapnel through his body. He miraculously survived the encounter but would, later on, endure years of physical therapy to regain the use of his arm. Lucas became the youngest recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
4. At 33, he resumed military service by joining the army’s 82nd Airborne Division, and conquering his fear of heights
But both of his parachutes failed during the training jump, sending him straight to the ground with no way to decrease his speed. He survived the 3,500 feet fall, later crediting it to a last-minute roll and sturdy build.
5. After retiring from the military in 1965, he suffered a series of misfortunes but would survive it all
Lucas would go on to survive several car crashes, and every single time, he would rise from the wrecks, unharmed. His second wife and son-in-law also plotted against his life but failed. In 1985, a fire broke up his uninsured mobile home became homeless for a time, and was even temporarily jailed.