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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Remembering Iwo Jima

Medal of Honor recipient Jack Lucas, 80, salutes Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., as she acknowledges him during a campaign stop at the train depot in Hattiesburg, Miss, on March 7, 2008. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Medal of Honor recipient Jack Lucas, 80, salutes Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., as she acknowledges him during a campaign stop at the train depot in Hattiesburg, Miss, on March 7, 2008. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

On this day 68 years ago, February 19, 1945, U.S. Marines landed on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima in the Pacific.

What followed was some of the bloodiest fighting of World War II. More than 6,000 Americans died along with more than 20,000 Japanese soldiers.

There were 27 Medals of Honor awarded for bravery during the Battle of Iwo Jima. One of them went to a young man named Jack Lucas.

Lucas was only 17 years old – the youngest Marine to ever receive the Medal of Honor. During the battle he threw his body on two grenades that had been tossed into a trench where he and several Marines were taking cover.

He spoke to Here & Now’s Alex Ashlock in 2006:

Lucas died in 2008 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He was 80 years old.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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