Jacklyn Harrell Lucas was born on 14 February 1928 in Plymouth, North Carolina. He was an all-around athlete in high school, but in August 1942, perhaps with his mother's consent, he left school at the age of fourteen to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve. Following recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, Lucas was assigned to posts in Florida and North Carolina. During this time, he qualified as a heavy machine gun crewman. In late 1943 he joined the Fifth Amphibious Corps at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Promoted to Private First Class early in 1944, upon discovery of his true age he was kept in rear area duties for nearly a year. Desiring to see combat, Lucas left his unit in early January 1945 and stowed away on the attack transport Deuel. After a month of hiding on board the ship, Lucas turned himself in and, though he had been declared a deserter and reduced in rank to Private, was allowed to join the Fifth Marine Division, then en route to assault Iwo Jima.
Medal of Honor citation
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the First Battalion, Twenty-Sixth Marines, FIFTH Marine Division, during action against the enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 February 1945. While creeping through a treacherous, twisting ravine which ran in close proximity to a fluid and uncertain front line on D-plus-1 day, Private First Class Lucas and three other men were suddenly ambushed by a hostile patrol which savagely attacked with rifle-fire and grenades. Quick to act when the lives of the small group were endangered by two grenades which landed directly in front of them, Private First Class 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. By his inspiring action and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice, he not only protected his comrades from certain injury or possible death but also enabled them to rout the Japanese patrol and continue the advance. His exceptionally courageous initiative and loyalty reflect the highest credit upon Private First Class Lucas and the United States Naval Service."