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for North Carolina--History--World War, 1939-1945--Veterans
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At seventeen, most people are students in high school. On February 20, 1945, Plymouth native Jack Lucas was seventeen years old and in combat against the Japanese on Iwo Jima during World War II. Lucas was severely wounded when he threw himself on a grenade to protect his buddies. For his heroism President Harry S. Truman presented him the Medal of Honor, the highest award bestowed for valor in action against an enemy. Later in life he received North Carolina's prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine, and he was recognized during President William Jefferson Clinton's 1995 State of the Union address.
The chances of three men who graduated from Four Oaks High School in the early 1940s reconnecting while serving abroad in World War II, would seem remote. The three Johnston County men, however, did meet again abroad. Earl Johnson was shot down in 1944. Douglas Johnson was shot down in 1943. Both were sent to the same prisoner-of-war camp. When the two men were liberated by American forces in May 1945, Donzia Bailey, serving with the 13th Armored Infantry Division, was among their liberators.
The 500 men who will gather at Fontana, North Carolina August 27-30 will proudly display the flag that they made while prisoners of war during World War II. The flag, made from parachute cloth that was dropped into the prison camp, was the first flag to fly over Japan since December 7, 1941. Most of the men were held at the Omine Machi prison camp, but other attendees will represent approximately one third of the survivors of the Bataan Death March and of Corregidor.