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.
Jimi Hendrix’s stint in the Army wasn’t necessarily voluntary. he was already honing his guitar skills in 1961 when a run-in with the law over stolen cars led to a choice: he could either spend two years in prison or join the Army. He enlisted on May 31, 1961 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, where he was stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He continued playing guitar while off-duty,
Sergeant Louis Hoekstra
commented, “This is one of his faults, because his mind apparently cannot function while performing duties and thinking about his guitar.” He noted that Hendrix was a “habitual offender” when it came to missing midnight bed checks and it was reported that he slept while on duty.
Hendrix had signed up for three years of service but Captain Gilbert Batchman had enough after one year, and made the case for Hendrix to be discharged, as his problems were judged to not be treatable by “hospitalization or counseling.”
According to the discharge form he had “Behavior problems, requires excessive supervision while on duty, little regard for regulations, appended masturbating in platoon area while supposed to be on detail.”An alleged ankle injury during a parachute jump gave Hendrix the opportunity to bow out of active duty with an honorable discharge, and he was happy to oblige.
James Flanagan of C/502nd PIR displays a German flag captured during the fighting on D-Day. This scene was photographed at “Stopka strongpoint”, the Marmion farm south of Ravenoville where “Mad Major” John Stopka was trying to gather troops from the 502nd 506th PIR who had landed nearby.
Photo & caption featured in Osprey Campaign • 104 D-Day 1944 (2) Utah Beach & the US Airborne Landing by Steven J Zaloga
As fellow troopers aid wounded comrades, the first sergeant of A Company, 101st Airborne Division, guides a medevac helicopter through the jungle to pick up casualties suffered during a five-day patrol near Hue, Vietnam in April of 1968.
In this colorized photo of F-Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division underway to Normandy aboard C-47 #12. At 01.20 hours D-Day they jumped over DZ “C” (Hiesville). (L to R): William G. Olanie, Frank D. Griffin, Robert J “Bob” Noody, Lester T. Hegland.
Robert “Bob” Noody second from right with the Bazooka. “Bob landed behind the mayor’s house at Ste-Mere-Eglise. In the ensuing days, Noody utilized his bazooka to destroy a German tank that threatened his unit outside of Carentan.”
Later in the war he made the Operation Market Garden jump and fought with Fox Company from Eindhoven to the Rhine. His unit was rushed to stem the German breakthrough at Bastogne. They held the line in woods next to Easy Company. He was wounded by friendly fire, and re-joined his unit at Hagenau.“