Medal of Honor – Iwo Jima

Defining a Hero

Jack Lummus - MOH


As  individuals of distinguished courage or ability, duly recognized for valiant service and  heroic qualities,  they  fearlessly  sacrifice  for  a  higher purpose.

First Lieutenant Jack Lummus, Iwo Jima 1945

Awarded posthumously to First Lieutenant Jack Lummus for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty….He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.  As had  millions of others, Lummus had enlisted following the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor.

Leader of a Rifle Platoon attached to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, he was killed in action against Japanese forces.

In a letter to his mother, Lummus’ commanding officer wrote:

Jack suffered very little for he didn’t live long.  I saw Jack soon after he was hit.  With calmness, serenity and complacency, Jack said, ‘The New York Giants lost a good man.” We all lost a good man.


Born in Ennis, Texas, Lummus was an exceptional high school athlete and received scholarship offers from Baylor and Tulane Universities. The young Texan chose Baylor, and was a standout end on the football team and an All-Southwest Conference center fielder on the baseball team for three years. Lummus was on the path to athletic stardom.

Weighing his options, Lummus attended the New York Giants’ training camp and made the 1941 roster. Wearing number 29, Lummus played nine games with the Giants, who made the championship game that year. The big game was played just two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor and, only a few weeks later, living his dream as a member of the NFL’s New York Giants, Lummus walked away from a promising athletic career and joined the Marine Corps in January 1942.

Having completed more than two years of a university education, Lummus was sent to Officers Training School at Quantico, Virginia, in October 1942, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in December.  Although he had enlisted early in 1942, Lummus’ first action was Iwo Jima. As the executive officer, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, Lummus landed in the first wave on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945.

On March 6, Lummus was put in command of E Company’s third rifle platoon. Two days later, the platoon was at the spearhead of an assault on an objective near Kitano Point.  Lummus’ athleticism and “win at all costs” attitude instilled courage, and then anger in his men. As Lummus charged forward, assaulting pillboxes on his own, his men watched as he survived several shrapnel hits, only to step on a land mine. Despite horrific damage to his legs, Lummus continued to push his men forward, demanding they not stop for him.

In his book, Iwo Jima: Legacy of Valor, combat correspondent and author Bill Ross explained the effect that Lummus’ severe wounds had on his men:

“Tears turned to raging fury as Easy Company swept ahead an incredible three hundred yards, overwhelming foxholes and pillboxes and bunkers, bolting across ravines and scrambling up ridges, blasting cave entrances and sniper pits. The spark that ignited the steamroller charge was the horrifying sight of their mortally wounded, indomitable commander and his fathomless courage. Seeing him, the men knew what they had to do.”

Lummus was triaged and evacuated to the Fifth Division hospital, where doctors did all they could to save his life. Despite 18 pints of blood transfusions and their best efforts, the damage to Lummus’ body was too much, even for his athletic frame.  A few hours later, Lummus asked for a sip of coffee, after which he laid back, closed his eyes, and smiled as he took his last breath. First Lieutenant Jack Lummus was 29 years old and the only son of four children.


Jack Lummus-NFL NY Giants-2


His citation for heroic actions may be viewed  at  the National Medal of Honor Museum of Military History, Jack Lummus, and reads as follows:

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to


                                            For service as set forth in the following


“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of a Rifle Platoon attached to the 2d Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 8 March 1945. Resuming his assault tactics with bold decision after fighting without respite for 2 days and nights, 1st Lt. Lummus slowly advanced his platoon against an enemy deeply entrenched in a network of mutually supporting positions. Suddenly halted by a terrific concentration of hostile fire, he unhesitatingly moved forward of his front lines in an effort to neutralize the Japanese position. Although knocked to the ground when an enemy grenade exploded close by, he immediately recovered himself and, again moving forward despite the intensified barrage, quickly located, attacked, and destroyed the occupied emplacement. Instantly taken under fire by the garrison of a supporting pillbox and further assailed by the slashing fury of hostile rifle fire, he fell under the impact of a second enemy grenade but, courageously disregarding painful shoulder wounds, staunchly continued his heroic 1-man assault and charged the second pillbox, annihilating all the occupants. Subsequently returning to his platoon position, he fearlessly traversed his lines under fire, encouraging his men to advance and directing the fire of supporting tanks against other stubbornly holding Japanese emplacements. Held up again by a devastating barrage, he again moved into the open, rushed a third heavily fortified installation and killed the defending troops. Determined to crush all resistance, he led his men indomitably, personally attacking foxholes and spider traps with his carbine and systematically reducing the fanatic opposition until, stepping on a land mine, he sustained fatal wounds. By his outstanding valor, skilled tactics, and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, 1st Lt. Lummus had inspired his stouthearted marines to continue the relentless drive northward, thereby contributing materially to the success of his regimental mission. His dauntless leadership and unwavering devotion to duty throughout sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Military Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.”

(signed) Harry S. Truman


Medal of Honor-3





Congressional Medal of Honor

The highest award for valor in action against an enemy force, bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.  Awarded to its recipient by the President in the name of Congress, it is commonly a posthumous medal presented to those who have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life and above and beyond the call of duty.

Created by a Resolution signed into law by President Lincoln on December 21, 1861, the first Medals of Honor were presented over 150 years ago, March 25, 1863, to soldiers during the Civil War.  The President, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to our nation’s bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration’s creation.

U.S. Fifth Marine Division Cemetery
Iwo Jima, 1945


In Profound Gratitude

For their Commitment and Sacrifice on our Behalf

God Bless America


About Karen Evans

Advocate For Honoring Military Service
This entry was posted in American History, American Veterans and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Medal of Honor – Iwo Jima

  1. gpcox says:

    He will now be remembered!

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