November Veteran of the Month: Jack Lucas

November Veteran of the Month: Jack Lucas

Mr. Jack was surprised during the Board of Commissioners’ Board Meeting on November 20, 2018 when he was announced as the November Veteran of the Month.

Mr. Jack was only 17-years-old when he joined the U.S. Navy. This photo was taken on the USS Pledge/AM277 months before it was sunk.

Mr. James (Jack) Lucas was born on January 16, 1933 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he and his five siblings were reared by the late Mr. James Arthur Lucas Sr. and Mrs. Lula Smith Lucas. Jack has one surviving sister, Mildred Lucas Patterson, who still resides in a suburb of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Mr. Jack decided to join the Navy when he was 16. Although he was allowed to sign up, he was not allowed to officially join until January 16, 1950 on his 17th birthday. He served aboard the USS Pledge/AM277 from March 1950 until October 12, 1950, when at 12:36 p.m. in Wonsan, Korea the ship hit a mine and went down. The USS Pirate/AM275 had also been sunk at 12:07 p.m. Apart from Pearl Harbor, this was the largest naval tragedy with two ships sunk less than 30 minutes apart.

Mr. Jack received five battle stars, one Silver Star and a Presidential Unit Citation for the USS Pledge/AM277 and its members. Jack was promoted by Admiral C. Turner Joy, Commander of the 7 Fleet Pacific, from Seaman 1st class to Coxswain. Jack served in the Navy until 1953. He received his Associates Degree in applied science from the University of Tokyo while he was enlisted in the Navy and a Bachelor’s Degree in management from Wayne State.

Upon his discharge from the Navy, Mr. Jack moved to Detroit, Michigan and became a police officer from 1953 until 1957. Leaving Detroit, Mr. Jack moved to Cleveland and served as a police officer until 1961. In 1962 he enrolled in Southeastern Seminary. From 1962-1965 Mr. Jack pastored four churches. He also started and operated several businesses such as Rooks and Tavern Recreation Center and Betsy (a soul food restaurant) while raising nine children.

Mr. Jack and his wife Mrs. Clara moved to Georgia and joined Frank Bailey Senior Center in 2008. Sadly, Mrs. Clara died in 2014. After his wife’s death, Mr. Jack became an active advocate for Veterans Helping Veterans (formerly BEHAVE) while continuing his work as a Lifetime American Legion Member, Scottish Rite Mason.

Mr. Jack was featured in a Home Depot Commercial which honored him as a veteran. He has also had many speaking opportunities to share his life experiences, including his time served in Korea.