Medal Monday: Honoring Jack Lummus and the Marine Corps Reserve
Rank: First Lieutenant
Organization: U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
Company: 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion
Division: 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division
Conflict: Battle of Iwo Jima, World War II
Date of Action: 03/08/1945
Date of Issue: 05/30/1945
This Wednesday marks the 102nd birthday of the Marine Corps Reserve. The Marine Corps Reserve was created during WWI by President Woodrow Wilson with the Naval Appropriations Act of 1916. The reserve force of the Marine Corps trains combat-ready soldiers to seamlessly integrate with active-duty Marine forces. Today, we honor the actions of Andrew “Jack” Jackson Lummus Jr., a Marine Corps Reservist who served in World War II.
Prior to serving his country, Lummus was known for his athleticism on the baseball and football fields. He joined the New York Giants as a two-way end but gave up his place on the team following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on January 30, 1942 and was immediately assigned to active duty.
Prior to his deployment to Japan, Lummus served in many locations as a Marine instructor. Later, he was assigned to be part of the first wave of Marines on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945, when the battle for the island began.
In the battle for Nishi Ridge on March 8, Lummus again held a leadership role and was the Rifle Platoon Leader for the 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion of the 27th Marines. He upheld his commanding role and motivated his men throughout the two-day struggle. First Lieutenant Lummus led soldiers against a defending Japanese line that the Americans had not yet broken. Lummus called for tank support and directed them into position himself, all while under enemy fire.
Despite suffering a shoulder wound from shrapnel, Lummus moved ahead of his men to continue what was effectively a one-man attack, destroying pillboxes – low concrete bunkers – while taking enemy fire and competently directing his men. Lummus’ actions and skilled leadership motivated those around him. He continued to attack foxholes and spider holes – deep holes dug in the earth used for stealthy positioning until he stepped on a land mine. The blast destroyed First Lieutenant Lummus’ legs, however, until he was carried away on a stretcher, he continued to shout orders and positive encouragement to his men. By the end of the day, the U.S. force had broken the enemy’s line of defense.
Lummus was returned to the battalion’s aid station and awaited transfer to a field hospital. Prior to being moved, Lummus said to his doctor, “Well Doc, the New York Giants lost a mighty good end today.” He soon passed away at the field hospital due to his serious wounds.
Lummus is remembered as a tremendous leader and tenacious soldier. For his brave actions on Iwo Jima, Jack Lummus was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on May 30, 1946.
His military and athletic legacy continue today, as the U.S. Navy named a maritime prepositioning ship in his honor, the USNS 1st Lt Jack Lummus, in 1986, and the New York Giants inducted him into their Ring of Honor on October 11, 2015.
Jack Lummus is one of the over 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients whose combat valor and civic heroics will be enshrined in the National Medal of Honor Museum at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, SC. These heroes deserve a home for their legacy to be shared with the next generations.
As the only military museum to recognize all branches of the armed services, it will highlight the fact that the recipients of our nation’s highest military award not only defended our country, they were instrumental in developing, designing, and enriching it.
The museum will be a vault for the values embodied in the medal: courage, sacrifice and patriotism. It will showcase the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Character Development Program, including living histories of over 100 recipients. It will also house the Citizens Heroes Program honoring ordinary citizens who have epitomized the concept of “service above self”.
Americans will walk out of that museum with the conviction that they too can be a hero, inspired by the values of courage and sacrifice that the Medal of Honor recipients used to excel in combat and in civilian life. Learn more at mohmuseum.org.