Medal of Honor Display at Memorial Headquarters
Posted on Mar 23, 2018
MEMPHIS, TN – The Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Headquarters serves as a memorial to brothers who gave their lives in defense of freedom. Notably two brothers, Marine Gen. Louis H. Wilson, Jr. (Millsaps, Alpha Iota ’39) and Jacklyn H. “Jack” Lucas (High Point, Delta Omega ’56) earned the Medal of Honor during World War II. Both served in the United States Marine Corps and received their medal in the same ceremony on October 5, 1945 from President Truman.
To honor these men, the Pi Kappa Alpha Foundation petitioned Headquarters Marine Corps for a display Medal of Honor. With the assistance of retired Marine Lt. Gen. Robert “Boomer” Milstead, (Houston, Epsilon Eta ‘71) our petition was granted. The Medal of Honor was received by the Foundation and International Fraternity staff and will become part of a permanent exhibit highlighting the bravery of these men. Please see below for more information on Brothers Wilson and Lucas, the Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Headquarters and the Medal of Honor.
In December 2015, General Wilson’s daughter, Janet Wilson Taylor and her husband Jarred permanently loaned to Pi Kappa Alpha many artifacts that enhance the Medal of Honor display including General Wilson’s Medal of Honor flag, his dress uniform from his time as Commandant of the Marine Corps, and personal Fraternity memorabilia.
Louis H. Wilson, Jr. and Jacklyn H. Lucas
Louis H. Wilson, Jr. was commissioned a second lieutenant in November 1941 and assigned to the 9th Marine Regiment. He deployed to the Pacific theater in February 1943, participating in landings on Guadacanal, Efate, and Bouganville. He was promoted to captain in April 1943. On July 25th and 26th, 1943, Wilson earned the nation’s highest honor in combat leading his company to repel and destroy a numerically superior enemy force. He was evacuated to San Diego as a result of wounds sustained during the battle. Wilson’s citation is below.
Wilson continued his career with the Marine Corps, ultimately becoming the Commandant of the Marine Corps on July 1, 1975 leading the Marines’ post-Vietnam transition to an all-volunteer force. Wilson was the first commandant to sit on the newly-formed Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Wilson passed away on June 21, 2005 at home in Birmingham, Alabama and is buried alongside his wife, Jane, at Arlington National Cemetery.
General Wilson was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award from Pi Kappa Alpha at the "Victory Convention" in 1946, inducted into the Order of West Range in 1990 and served with distinction as a trustee of the Pi Kappa Alpha Foundation from 1979 to 1980.
General Wilson’s full citation is available here on the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.
Jacklyn H. Lucas was big for his age. Only 14 years old, he joined the Marine Corps in 1942, telling the recruiter he was 17. He forged his mother’s signature on the enlistment papers and headed to boot camp. Three years later, just shy of his 17th birthday he turned himself in after going AWOL by stowing away on USS Deuel, a ship carrying the 5th Marine Division and destined for combat in the Pacific. His commander was impressed by his willingness to fight and let him join the unit.
On D-Day +1, Lucas was creeping through a ravine with three other Marines when they were attacked with rifle fire and grenades. Two grenades landed near the men and Lucas jumped on the first grenade and then pulled the second grenade under him, absorbing the blast and saving his fellow Marines. He attributed his survival to the soft sand of Iwo Jima. Lucas was evacuated stateside to recover, ultimately undergoing 21 surgeries. He retained over 200 pieces of metal in his body, and would set off airport metal detectors whenever he traveled.
After the war, he fulfilled a promise to his mother and earned his degree at High Point University where he was initiated into Delta Omega Chapter. The book, “Indestructible: The Unforgettable Story of a Marine Hero at the Battle of Iwo Jima.” tells his story. Lucas was recognized with Pi Kappa Alpha’s Distinguished Achievement Award on January 1, 1995. Lucas’ Medal of Honor resides in the keel of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7). Lucas passed away on June 5, 2008 and is buried in Highland Cemetery, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Lucas’ full citation is available here on the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.
The Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Headquarters
Sensing the Fraternity’s fervent patriotism and the desire to appropriately honor Pi Kappa Alpha’s Gold Star Heroes, LeRoy Hodges (Washington and Lee, Pi ‘06) advanced the idea of creating and building a “War Memorial & Archives Fund.” The primary goal was to raise sufficient capital to underwrite the construction of a physical facility dedicated to permanently honor Pi Kappa Alpha's war dead. This facility would house the Fraternity’s professional staff, hold and display its growing archival and memorabilia holdings (a goal of then-National Historian, Freeman Hart), and most importantly, serve as a lasting memorial to those brothers who had died in military service to the country.
Delegates and attendees at Pi Kappa Alpha’s 1946 Victory Convention at Mackinac Island in Michigan, eagerly embraced these ambitious plans, and selected Memphis, Tennessee, as the site for this new facility.
The Pi Kappa Alpha Foundation has its roots in the Memorial Foundation incorporated in 1948, and its current mission includes:
- preserving educational books, archives, war records and artwork for patriotic and historical research;
- maintaining Memorial Headquarters, the Harvey T. Newell Library and the Freeman H. Hart Library;
- and honoring former Pi Kappa Alpha brothers who gave their lives in military service to the United States and Canada through the Gold Star War Memorial.
Learn more about the PIKE Foundation at www.pikes.org/pike-foundation/.
Current exhibits feature memorabilia of veterans from conflicts dating back to the Battle of New Market during the Civil War.
The Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor was established by Iowa Senator James W. Grimes on December 9, 1861 to “promote the efficiency of the Navy” by authorizing the production and distribution of “medals of honor.” The medal were to be bestowed on sailors and marines “as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war.” President Lincoln signed the bill and the medal of honor was born. Shortly afterward, the bill was amended to include soldiers of the United States Army.
Medal of Honor Facts
There are three versions of the Medal of Honor, each design specific to the Department of the Navy (Navy and Marine Corps), Department of the Army, and Department of the Air Force.
- 3,517 Medals of Honor have been awarded since 1861. 621 were posthumous awards
- Medals awarded during World War II: 471
- Medals awarded during the Iraq War (2003-2011): 4
- Medals awarded during the Afghanistan War (2001-present): 14
- Medals awarded during peacetime: 193
- 65 Canadians serving in the United States Armed Forces have earned the Medal of Honor.
- Although not required by law or military regulation, members of the uniformed services render salutes to Medal of Honor recipients, regardless of rank. This is one of the few instances where a service member will receive salutes from members of higher rank.