Jack Lucas, 80, a Plymouth, North Carolina native, was the youngest Marine to receive Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor. His heroic act occurred at Iwo Jima just days after his 17th birthday when he used his body — doing a self-described Superman dive — to shield others from two grenades. The Medal of Honor website describes the events below:

Quick to act when the lives of the small group were endangered by 2 grenades which landed directly in front of them, Pfc. Lucas unhesitatingly hurled himself over his comrades upon one grenade and pulled the other under him, absorbing the whole blasting forces of the explosions in his own body in order to shield his companions from the concussion and murderous flying fragments.

Did I mention that he was in Iwo Jima because his age had been discovered, the military had threatened to discharge him, so he stowed away on a troop ship?

Jack was the youngest serviceman to win the Medal of Honor in any conflict other than the Civil War (The youngest ever serviceman to receive the MOH is Julian Scott, a 15 year old drummer from Vermont). In the 1960s he entered the U.S. Army as a paratrooper to conquer his fear of heights, where he survived a training jump where both of his chutes failed to open.

Mr. Lucas died of leukemia in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on June 5, 2008, his wife Ruby by his side.

Interesting links: