Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125)

The first U.S. Navy ship named for Jacklyn Harrell Lucas -- born on 14 February 1928 at Plymouth, N.C. -- who received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during World War II. He attended high school at nearby Salemburg, where the determined young man became captain of the football team and proved to be an all-around sportsman, also taking part in baseball, softball, basketball, boxing, wrestling, horseback riding, trap and skeet shooting, and hunting. Although only 14 years of age, five feet, five and one half inches high, and weighing 158 pounds, Lucas enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve with his mother’s consent on 6 August 1942. He gave his age as 17, and went to Parris Island, S.C., for recruit training. During his rifle training Pvt. Lucas qualified as a sharpshooter. He next served at the Marine Barracks at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. In June 1943, he was transferred to the 21st Replacement Battalion at New River, N.C., and one month later went to the 25th Replacement Battalion, where he successfully completed schooling which qualified him as a heavy machine gun crewman.

Lucas shipped out from the United States on 4 November 1943, and the following month joined the 6th Base Depot of the V Amphibious Corps at Pearl Harbor, T.H. He was advanced to private first class on 29 January 1944. Lucas told some of his fellow marines that he intended to join a combat organization, and on 10 January 1945, he walked out of camp, wearing a khaki uniform and carrying his dungarees and field shoes in a roll under his arm. The marines declared him absent without leave (AWOL) when he failed to return that night and a month later, when he had all but disappeared, declared him a “deserter,” offering a reward for his apprehension. He was also reduced to the rank of private at that time.

He stowed away on board the attack transport Deuel (APA-160) while she carried men of the 5th Marine Division into harm’s way. Lucas surrendered to the senior troop officer present on 8 February, dressed in neat, clean dungarees. He was allowed to remain, and shortly afterwards transferred to Headquarters Company, 5th Marine Division. He reached his 17th birthday while at sea, shortly before the heroism he would display in combat that would result in his ultimately being awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in Operation Detachment—landings on Iwo Jima in the Kazan Rettō (Volcano Islands) by the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions.

Previous Allied air raids had weakened but warned the Japanese garrison, that prepared extensive defenses utilizing the island’s caves. The volcanic terrain limited the effectiveness of all but direct hits against those positions and the marines sustained appalling casualties when they landed on 19 February 1945. The enemy continued to resist fiercely and inflict casualties as the marines advanced inland, and on the day following the landings, Lucas crept through a twisting ravine with three other men of his rifle team when the Japanese opened a hand grenade attack on them. The men jumped into two shallow foxholes. A grenade landed in Lucas’ foxhole and he threw his body over the device but it failed to explode. Another grenade came hurtling in, and he reached out and pulled it beneath himself shortly before the explosion occurred, which lifted him off the ground and blew parts of his clothing into the air. Severely wounded in the right arm and wrist, right leg and thigh, and chest, Lucas undoubtedly saved the other marines from serious injury and possible death. His companions observed his fearsome wounds and left him for dead, however, he miraculously survived and was subsequently evacuated and treated at various field hospitals prior to his arrival at San Francisco, Calif., on 28 March 1945. The marines removed the mark of desertion from his record in August of that year while he recovered at Naval Hospital Charleston, S.C. 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. President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor to Lucas during a ceremony at the White House on 5 October 1945.

Lucas died on 5 June 2008 in Hattiesburg, Miss., at the age of 80 after a battle with cancer. He was buried at Highland Cemetery in Hattiesburg four days later. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Lucas received the Purple Heart; Presidential Unit Citation; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze star; American Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.

Despite his horrific wounds Lucas proudly wears his Medal of Honor, 1945. (Private First Class Jacklyn Harrell Lucas, USMCR, Marine Corps History Division)
Despite his horrific wounds Lucas proudly wears his Medal of Honor, 1945. (Private First Class Jacklyn Harrell Lucas, USMCR, Marine Corps History Division)

(DDG-125: displacement 9,515; length 509'; beam 59'; draft 32'; speed 30+ knots; complement 312; armament 1 5-inch, Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for 96 BGM-109 Tomahawks, RGM-84 Harpoons, SM-2MR Standards, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSMs), and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 1 Close In Weapon System (CIWS), 2 25 millimeter, 4 machine guns, and 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft 2 Sikorsky MH-60B/R Seahawks; class Arleigh Burke)

The Navy awarded the contract to build DDG-125 to Huntington Ingalls Industries on 3 June 2013. Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus Jr. announced the selection of the name Jack H. Lucas for the ship during a ceremony at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss., on 17 September 2016. The company began fabricating the guided missile destroyer at its Pascagoula, Miss., facility on 7 May 2018.

An artist’s interpretation of how the ship will likely appear as she turns sharply at sea. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Armando Gonzales, U.S. Navy Photograph 160830-N-LV331-005, Navy NewsStand)
An artist’s interpretation of how the ship will likely appear as she turns sharply at sea. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Armando Gonzales, U.S. Navy Photograph 160830-N-LV331-005, Navy NewsStand)

Detailed history pending.

Mark L. Evans
10 May 2018

Published: Thu May 10 12:26:02 EDT 2018