Seventy years ago today the American flag was raised on Iwo Jima. One of our own helped make that happen. Here’s the story:

Jack Lucas was born in Plymouth, NC in 1928. In 1942, 14 years old, he lied about his age and joined the US Marines. He excelled in training but was not assigned to a combat unit. While stationed in Hawaii in January, 1945, he stowed away on a ship headed for Iwo Jima and was declared a deserter. After turning himself in on board the ship, he was assigned to the 5th Marine Division. He turned 17 six days before going ashore on Iwo Jima. On the island, his rifle team was attacked by Japanese troops. As grenades rained down on them, Jack threw himself on top of one and pulled another under his body. One of them went off.


Over the next few years, he underwent 21 operations, but over 200 pieces of metal remained in his body for the rest of his life. On October 5, 1945, in the presence of Admiral Chester Nimitz and Secretary of War James Forrestal, President Truman awarded Jack the Medal of Honor, making him the youngest Marine ever to win that award.


After the war, Jack got a degree in business from High Point College and for a time managed the Varsity Drive In on Polo Road in Winston-Salem. In January, 1995, Bill Clinton asked Jack to be his guest at the State of the Union speech. Jack took as his guests his son Jimmy Lucas, and grandson Matt Lucas of Winston-Salem. Jack died on June 5, 2008.

Left to right in front row below: Matthew Lucas, Jimmy Lucas, Jack Lucas, Hillary Clinton, Marine Sgt. Gregory Depestre and Tipper Gore.


See and hear Jack tell his story