Friday, June 6, 2008

Jack Lucas, Youngest Marine to Receive Medal of Honor

Jack Lucas, who forged his mother's signature on an enlistment document so he could join the military at 14 during World War II and who became the youngest Marine to receive the Medal of Honor, has died. He was 80.

Lucas, who was diagnosed with leukemia in April, died Thursday at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Miss., after asking to be removed from a dialysis machine, said Mary Draughn, a close friend.

Three years after joining the Marines, Lucas was stationed at a supply depot in Hawaii when he stowed away on a ship headed to Iwo Jima because he was afraid he would never see combat, he later recalled.

On Feb. 20, 1945 -- six days after he turned 17 -- Lucas was fighting Japanese soldiers in a trench during the Battle of Iwo Jima when he dived on top of two grenades and pushed them deep into the beach's volcanic ash to shield three other Marines from harm.

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