Jack Lucas never let any barrier keep him from what he wanted to do. As a teenager in the midst of World War II, he was determined to fight for his country. When a Marine recruiter questioned his age, the 15-year-old said he was 17 and had his stepfather confirm the lie. Assigned to training duty instead of combat, Lucas went AWOL, boarded a military train for California and assigned himself to a Marine battalion headed to the Pacific. When an officer discovered his true age and stuck Lucas with camp duty, he stowed away on a transport ship bound for Iwo Jima. His determination to fight so impressed a Marine colonel that Lucas was assigned to an amphibious assault unit. On February 19, 1945, Pvt. Jack Lucas, age 17, in support of the Marines or in spite of them, landed on Iwo Jima. Before the next day was out, he would throw himself onto two Japanese grenades, earning the Congressional Medal of Honor (becoming the youngest Marine recipient in history) and forever changing his life.
Indestructible: The Unforgettable Story of a Marine Hero at the Battle of Iwo Jima is Lucas' straightforward account of that life, from childhood through wartime, up to his present experiences as a celebrated veteran. Lucas and his co-writer, D.K. Drum, tell the story simply, but the simplicity of the language makes Lucas' story all the more compelling. To travel with Lucas is to see the war and its aftermath as he saw it, and to understand, if only a little, what a man will do and bear for the love of his country. As the Greatest Generation fades away, it reamins worthwhile to discover what made them great, and to do so through the eyes of one of their own. Howard Shirley is a writer in Franklin, Tennessee, and the grandson of WWII veterans.