Navy Names Two Ships for Pike Medal of Honor Recipients
Posted on Sep 21, 2016
OXFORD, MS. -- In a ceremony at University of Mississippi Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Sept. 17, 2016, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, DDG 125 and DDG 126, will be named Jack H. Lucas and Louis H. Wilson Jr. respectively in honor of the two Medal of Honor recipients. Both men are Pi Kappa Alpha alumni and received their medals during the same ceremony from President Harry Truman.
USS Jack H. Lucas
At 14 years old, Jacklyn H. “Jack” Lucas (High Point, Delta Omega ’56) joined the United States 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. During World War II, Lucas, then a private first class, received the Medal of Honor at age 17 for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
During a close firefight with Japanese forces, Lucas saved the lives of three fellow Marines when, after two enemy hand-grenades were thrown into a his trench, he placed himself on one grenade while simultaneously pulling the other under his body. One of the grenades did not explode; the other exploded but only injured Lucas due to the Marine's selfless actions.
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. Lucas was recognized with Pi Kappa Alpha’s Distinguished Achievement Award on January 1, 1995.
Lucas is the youngest Marine and the youngest service member in World War II to receive the Medal of Honor.
DDG 125 is the first ship to be named for Jack H. Lucas.
USS Louis H. Wilson Jr.
Gen. Louis H. Wilson Jr. (Millsaps, Alpha Iota ’39) received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Guam during World War II. During the assault on Guam in July 1944, while commanding Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, Wilson, then a Marine Corps captain, earned the nation's highest honor for heroism in combat when he and his company repelled and destroyed a numerically superior enemy force.
Wilson was promoted to General July 1, 1975, when he assumed the office of commandant of the Marine Corps. As commandant, Wilson repeatedly stressed modernization of the post-Vietnam Marine Corps. He insisted on force readiness, responsiveness and mobility by maintaining fast-moving, hard-hitting expeditionary units, each consisting of a single integrated system of modern ground- and air-delivered firepower, tactical mobility and electronic countermeasures.
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.
DDG 126 will be the first ship named in honor of Louis H. Wilson Jr.
DDG 125 and 126 will be the eighth and ninth ships Mabus has named honoring Medal of Honor recipients. Arleigh Burke-class destroyers conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis response to sea control and power projection. DDG 122 will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously, and will contain a combination of offensive and defensive weapon systems designed to support maritime warfare including integrated air and missile defense and vertical launch capabilities.
DDG 125 will be constructed at Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi and is expected to enter the fleet in 2023.
DDG 126 will be constructed by Bath Iron Works, a division of General Dynamics in Maine, and is also expected to enter the Navy fleet in 2023.
Both ships will enter the Navy fleet in 2023, at 509 feet long with a beam length of 59 feet and capable of operating at speeds in excess of 30 knots.
Additional information about the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers is available online from the U.S. Navy's fact file.
To learn more about the Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Headquarters the current display honoring General Wilson and Jack Lucas click here.
Compiled by Megan Cook from Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs Release dated September 17, 2016