5th marine division


The Indestructible Jack Lucas,

In 1942 Jacklyn H. Lucas enlisted in the Marine Corps, not an unusual thing to do during World War II, but certainly unusual at the age of 14.  A boy who looked much older than his years, Lucas claimed he was 17, forged his mother’s signature, and was inducted into the Corps no questions asked.  Jack Lucas underwent Marine Corps training at Parris Island and qualified as a sharpshooter and heavy machine gunner.  However after training, Lucas was sent from one menial assignment to the next, first in the lower 48, then at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

By 1945 Lucas was becoming bored with peaceful service, and on January 10th he went AWOL and stowed away on a ship bound for Iwo Jima.  Despite going AWOL, Lucas was given a combat assignment and attached to the 5th Marine Division.

Upon hitting the beaches Lucas and his fellow Marines were sprayed with murderous Japanese gunfire.  Perhaps the only Marine to invade Iwo Jima unarmed, Lucas immediately picked up a rifle and returned fire. During the battle, it was his squad’s duty to clear out a machine gun nest near a deep ravine.  It was then that a grenade landed in the middle of his squad.  Without thinking, Lucas leaped upon the grenade, determined to use his body as shield to protect his comrades.  Then another grenade landed nearby.  Lucas grabbed that grenade as well, and stuffed it under his torso.  When the two grenades exploded his body was thrown into the air.  Amazingly, Lucas was still alive, though seriously wounded.  Covered from head to toe with shrapnel wounds, Lucas was evacuated to a hospital ship.  Over the next seven months of recovery, Lucas would undergo 21 surgeries to remove 250 pieces of shrapnel from his body.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions (the youngest Marine to receive the award), as well as the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

After the war, Jack Lucas returned home, resumed his education as a ninth grader, graduated high school, and graduated college with a business degree.  He married three times.  His marriage with his second wife didn’t go so well, as she hired a hitman to kill him.  Fortunately he was able to fend off the attack.

In 1961, he rejoined the military, this time joining the US Army and becoming a paratrooper so that he could “conquer his fear of heights”.  During a training jump, his two parachutes failed to open, and he fell 3,500 feet before slamming into the ground.  Miraculously, despite screaming to the earth at terminal velocity, Lucas walked away from the accident unscathed.  From 1961 to 1965, Lucas served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne.  When he finally retired he had risen to the rank of captain.

Jack Lucas died of Leukemia in 2008 at the age of 80.  His Medal of Honor and citation is currently sealed within the hull of the USS Iwo Jima.

U.S. Marine Pfc. Alvin C. Dunlap, 5th Marine Division, 27th Marine Regiment, who spotted a Japanese machine gun nest during the Battle of Iwo Jima (codename: Operation Detachment) finds its location on a map so they can send the information to artillery or mortars to wipe out the position. Iwo Jima, February 20 1945.

(A relative of Alvin Dunlap had earlier claimed that he was not shouting orders ….. but just yawning)

(Photo source - Hdqrs. No. 109,619)
DIST LIST 2-4 3-345
Photo taken by Corporal John T. Dreyfuss

(Colorized by Craig Kelsay from the USA)

This Japanese flag was captured by U.S. Marines as they advanced up the slopes of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, February 1945. It bears the signatures and addresses of men who served with the 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division. It can be seen at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.

Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines patrol towards their objective during an airfield seizure exercise as a part of Exercise Steel Knight 2014 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 11, 2013. Steel Knight enables 1st Marine Division to test and refine its command and control capabilities by acting as the headquarters element for a forward-deployed Marine expeditionary force.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin A. Bopp/ Released)

Heavy Ruck: Check

Long distances walking: check

Soon to be my life. 

Operation Jackstay is over. I guess now I’m a veteran. Nothing they could have done would have prepared us for this. We now know the training in Hawaii and the Philippines was a piece of cake. God doesn’t know about the Mekong Delta, He didn’t create that hellhole. I think when He rested, the devil slipped one in on him. They told us before we went in that we were the first American unit to operate that far south in the war. I think everyone else had more brains. Maybe when I’m out of the Marines I’ll be proud of this, I’m just too tired to feel anything.
          We lost some good guys. How do you explain this in a letter? One minute they were there, then dead. I have no idea why I’m still here.

Cpl. Jon Johnson in a letter home to his parents and wife, dated 8 April 1966. Johnson served in Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. 

Source: Letters from Vietnam edited by Bill Adler

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of the youngest American servicemember to die in the Vietnam War. PFC Dan Bullock, who had altered his birth certificate in order to enlist, was 15 years old when he was killed in action. Age is no limiter of patriotism, nor of self-sacrifice.
Rest in peace, Marine. Semper Fidelis.

When he was 14 years old, he altered the date on his birth certificate to show he was born December 21, 1949. He processed through the recruiting station, and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on September 18, 1968. As a member of Platoon 3039 in Parris Island, he graduated from boot camp on December 10, 1968.

Bullock arrived in Vietnam on May 18, 1969 and was assigned as a rifleman in 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was stationed at An Hoa Combat Base west of Hội An in Quảng Nam Province. He was killed instantly by small arms fire on June 7, 1969, during a North Vietnamese Army night attack while making an ammunition run to resupply his beleaguered unit. Bullock was just 15 years old.

3rd Marine Amtrack Btn. LVT-2 ‘Water Buffaloes’ approaching the beaches at Iwo Jima. February 19 1945

The naval bombardment stopped at 0857, and at 0902, the first of an eventual 30,000 marines of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions, under V Amphibious Corps, departed in their landing craft. They arrived at the beach 3 minutes later. It was uneventful. They were sure that there were no Japanese left to fight; the only casualties that occurred were to drownings caused by a powerful undertow. Several more waves of landing crafts hit the beach and dropped off their men, tanks, and supplies continuously in the next hour, and it was about then when the thunders of the Japanese guns hit. Under Kuribayashi’s specific instructions, they waited an hour for the beach to crowd up before the guns sounded so that every shot fired would inflict maximum damage on the Americans. “Smoke and earsplitting noise suddenly filled the universe,” and the Marines had nowhere to hide as the volcanic sand was too soft to dig a proper foxhole. All they could do was move forward; some of those who could not move forward were crushed by tanks that were trying to get off of the beach like the men. Navy Corpsman Roy Steinfort recalled that as he arrived on the beach, he was initially happy to see that countless Marines lay prone defending the beachhead. It did not take long to realize that the men were not in prone positions; they were all dead. Frantic radio calls reported back to the operations HQ: “All units pinned down by artillery and mortars”, “casualties heavy”, “taking heavy fire and forward movement stopped”, and “artillery fire the heaviest ever seen”. By sun down, the Americans had already incurred 2,420 casualties.

(Photo source - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)


The Forgotten Paramarines of World War II,

When one thinks of World War II paratroopers, famous units such as the 101st and 82nd Airborne come to mind.  After all these units became famous for their daredevil combat airdrops all over Europe.  However during World War II in the Pacific, a little known force of “paramarines” was created.  

Called the 1st Marine Parachute Regiment, which consisted of 3,000 men, they were much like their Army counterparts in that they were an elite force who used special equipment and training to accomplish their unique missions.  They had higher standards of fitness, received higher pay, and because of the dangerous nature of their missions were required to be unmarried.  Another unique aspect of of the paramarines were that they were issued with some of the less common American weapons used during World War II, such as the Reising Submachine Gun, Johnson Semi-Automatic Rifle, and Johnson Light Machine (pictured below in order).

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Throughout the Pacific Theater the paramarines were known as some the toughest and hardest charging devil dogs in the corps.  Their list of combat tours include Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and the Soloman Islands Campaign.  Casualties were especially high at Guadalcanal where the unit suffered a 20% casualty rate, among the highest of all Marine units who participated in the battle.

Despite being highly trained and motivated parachutists, the paramarines never made a combat jump during the war.  The only exception was small group of paramarines who dropped into France to help the French Resistance.  Rather the paramarines conducted amphibious operations just like regular marines.  This was due to two factors.  The first was that the Marine Corps lacked aircraft from which to conduct paradrops.  Rather the paramarines were dependent on US Army Air Corps planes to conduct training and operations.  Finally, and more importantly, the Pacific Theater lacked the terrain needed for successful airborne operations.  Since most of the Pacific’s battles were fought in either dense jungle or small heavily fortified islands, there was little chance the paramarines would ever conduct a combat jump.

On December 30th, 1943 the 1st Marine Parachute Regiment was officially disbanded, and its marines transferred to other units.  Most would be transferred to the 5th Marine Division who landed at Iwo Jima on February 19th, 1945.   Former Paramarines, Cpl. Harlon H. Block and Pfc. Ira H. Hayes, assisted in the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi on 23 February 1945.  Of the 81 Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipients during World War II, five were former paramarines who fought at Iwo Jima.

70 years ago on this day, (February 19, 1945) over 30,000 Marines of the 3rd Marine Division, the 4th Marine Division, and the new 5th Marine Division, making up the V Amphibious Corps, landed on the black, volcanic sands of Iwo Jima. This five-week battle, for an eight square-mile volcanic island, comprised some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the War in the Pacific of World War II. 

Iwo Jima was also the only battle in Marine Corps history in which the number of American casualties exceeded the Japanese, although Japanese combat deaths numbered three times as many American deaths. Of the 22,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima at the beginning of the battle, only 216 were taken prisoner, with U.S. forces suffering 6,821 killed and 19,217 wounded.

In the annals of Marine Corps history, Iwo Jima holds a place of almost mythical honor due to the fact that more Medals of Honor (MOH) were awarded there than for any other comparable campaign that the Marines fought during the War. A total of 27 Medals of Honor were awarded, half of them posthumous. Twenty-two were awarded to Marines.


Youngest M.O.H. recipient, PFC Jacklyn Harold Lucas (1928–2008) was a U.S. Marine who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Iwo Jima campaign for unhesitatingly hurling himself over his comrades upon one grenade and for pulling another one under himself.

Although only 14 years of age, having a muscular build, 5 ft 8 in tall and weighing 180 pounds, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve without his mother’s consent on 6 August 1942. He gave his age as 17, and went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina for recruit training.

During his rifle training, Pvt. Lucas qualified as a sharpshooter. 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, where he successfully completed schooling which qualified him as a heavy machine gun crewman.

He left the continental United States on 4 November 1943, and the following month he joined the 6th Base Depot of the V Amphibious Corps at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He was advanced to private first class on 29 January 1944.

With statements to his buddies that he was going to join a combat organization, PFC Lucas walked out of camp on 10 January 1945, wearing a khaki uniform and carrying his dungarees and field shoes in a roll under his arm.

He was declared UA (Unauthorized Absence) when he failed to return that night and a month later, when there was still no sign of him, he was declared a “deserter”, and a reward was offered for his apprehension. He was also reduced to the rank of private at that time.

He stowed away on board USS Deuel which was transporting units of the 5th Marine Division into combat. He surrendered to the senior troop officer present on 8 February 1945 dressed in neat, clean dungarees. He was allowed to remain, and shortly after he was transferred to Headquarters Company, 5th Marine Division. He reached his 17th birthday while at sea, six days before the heroic actions at Iwo Jima, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

On the day following the landing at Iwo Jima, he was creeping through a twisting ravine with three other men of his rifle team when the Japanese opened an attack on them. The men were in a trench when two enemy grenades landed nearby. Lucas pushed a thrown hand grenade into the volcanic ash and covered it with his rifle and his body. He reached out and pulled a second grenade beneath him. His companions had thought he died in the blast, so they left him, but he was amazingly still alive. Severely wounded in the right arm and wrist, right leg and thigh, and chest, Pvt. Lucas had undoubtedly saved his companions from serious injury and possible death.

He was evacuated to the hospital ship Samaritan, and then treated at various field hospitals prior to his arrival in San Francisco, California on 28 March 1945. He eventually underwent 21 surgeries. For the rest of his life, there remained about 200 pieces of metal, some the size of 22 caliber bullets, in Lucas’ body — which set off airport metal detectors.

The mark of desertion was removed from his record in August of that year while he was a patient at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Charleston, South Carolina. He was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve because of disability resulting from his wounds on 18 September 1945, following his reappointment to the rank of Private First Class.

On 5 October 1945, Lucas and 14 other sailors and Marines (including Pappy Boyington) were presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman. In attendance at the ceremony were Lucas’ mother, Admiral Chester Nimitz, and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal.

Lucas receives his Medal of Honor Flag from CMC Gen. Hagee.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, PFC Lucas was awarded the Purple Heart; Presidential Unit Citation; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze star and the World War II Victory Medal.

He served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from 1961 to 1965 as a paratrooper to conquer his fear of heights and survived a training jump in which both of his parachutes did not open. When the keel of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) was laid, Lucas placed his Medal of Honor citation in the ship’s hull, where it remains sealed.

On 3 August 2006, Lucas, along with 15 living Marine Medal of Honor recipients, was presented the Medal of Honor flag by Commandant of the Marine Corps General Michael Hagee. The presentation took place at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. in front of over 1,000 people, including family, friends, and Marines. Lucas said of the ceremony, “To have these young men here in our presence — it just rejuvenates this old heart of mine. I love the Corps even more knowing that my country is defended by such fine young people.”

He died at a hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on 5 June 2008 of leukemia with family and friends by his side. ~Wiki