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September 1, 2014

Falling on Grenades:

Lucas-340x439.jpg

The Indestructible Jacklyn H. Lucas During the battle on February 20, 1945, Jack and his comrades were advancing toward a Japanese airstrip near Mount Suribachi. Taking cover in a trench under heavy fire, Jack realized they were only feet away from enemy soldiers in a neighboring trench. He managed to shoot two of the soldiers before two live grenades landed in his trench.
Thinking quickly, Jack threw himself on the first grenade, shoving it into volcanic ash and used his body and rifle to shield the others with him from the pending blast. When another grenade appeared directly after the first, he reached out and pulled it under himself as well. His body took the brunt of the blasts and the massive amount of shrapnel. His companions were all saved, but his injuries were so serious they thought he had died. Only after a second company moved through did anyone realize he was somehow still alive. Jack endured nearly two dozen surgeries and extensive therapy and convalescence. Despite the surgeries, over 200 pieces of shrapnel remained in his body for the rest of his life.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at September 1, 2014 5:24 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Looks like the Medal of Honor. That correct?

Posted by: chasmatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2014 9:37 AM

Yes. That's the Medal of Honor - Navy type.

I once showed a photo to my father-in-law (he, and my father, were WW II vets). It showed a carrier deck crewman jumping onto a flaming Hellcat airplane, which sill had the huge fuel drop-tanks attached, and he was trying to help free the pilot. Get it? He was jumping onto a flaming gas can to save a man. Here's what my dad in law said: he was doing his job.

Now you understand something about that generation. They were made of iron.

Posted by: Casey Klahn [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2014 10:32 AM

I'm familiar with US army grenades and there is no way in hell any human being can lay on one as it detonates and survive. period.

Of all the millions of dollars of military weaponry I utilized none were more terrifying than the grenades. That sound. No movie theater can create the sound of one going off about 30' away. KEEER-WHOOMPH! You can actually feel the air move, like you've never felt before. And then little stuff falling down thru the trees. Nope, nobody's surviving that.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2014 10:42 AM

The only way it could happen, Ghostsniper, is if you could push it a couple of feet into some volcanic ash which would absorb some of the blast.

If you ever studied the Japanese defense plan for Iwo Jima, which consisted of allowing as many Marines to get ashore as possible for 20 minutes, then pinning them down while covering every square foot of the tiny beachhead with artillery ... you're left asking yourself "Why wasn't the entire landing force of thousands completely wiped out?"

The answer may lie in the volcanic ash which bedeviled the Marines in other ways. A standard artillery shell would penetrate fairly deep into the ash before detonating, which would tamp down the blast and significantly reduce the hazard from shrapnel.

This might tend to explain an observation made by Ernie Pyle about the Marine casualties -- that they died with the "utmost violence" The only way an artillery shell would kill you is if it landed right on top of you and blew you to pieces.

Posted by: Call me Lennie [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2014 1:10 PM

Another possibility: perhaps the explosive in the grenades was not up to standard (deterioration in the salt air, poor quality control during manufacture). Combine this with the volcanic soil, and a lot of luck/providence, and you had a Marine who survived to receive his Medal of Honor.

Posted by: waltj [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 4, 2014 11:55 AM

A common type of grenade used by IJA in lasr ditch days was consructed from fired pocelain and filled with very low order explosive.

There are photographs of troops who disemboweled themselves using these and the corpses are quite recognizable.

Try that with a Mk2 pineapple and they would be counting shoes and dividing by two to figure out the body count.

Good job, Marine!

Posted by: Andy Jones [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2014 9:07 AM

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