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LUMMUS, ANDREW JACKSON, JR. [JACK]

LUMMUS, ANDREW JACKSON, JR. [JACK] (1915–1945). Medal of Honor recipient, Andrew Jackson Lummus, Jr., referred to as Jack, was born on October 22, 1915, in Ennis, Texas, a cotton-farming town. He was the son of Andrew Jackson Lummus, Sr., a cotton farmer, and Laura Francis (Warren) Lummus. The Lummus family experienced hardship during the Great Depression. As a youngster, Jack Lummus enjoyed athletic success in both football and baseball at Ennis High School in the early 1930s. Lummus dropped out of high school after his second year due to the family’s financial situation. Texas Military College at Terrell offered Lummus an athletic scholarship where he was able to finish his final two years of high school in 1937.

In 1937 Lummus accepted an athletic scholarship to Baylor University where he played football and baseball for the next four years. In football, Lummus (standing at 6’ 3” and weighing 195 pounds) played end, and his play and speed attracted the attention of the New York Giants of the National Football League. As a senior, he was selected to the All-Southwest Conference football team. Playing centerfield in baseball, Lummus earned spots on the All-Southwest Conference team in 1938, 1939, and 1940.

Jack Lummus’s career took a number of turns in 1941. With the nation moving closer to war, he mulled his military options as well as his options as a professional athlete. In May Lummus enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps to attend flight school and dropped out of Baylor before earning his degree. While waiting on orders for flight school, Lummus signed a contract to play outfield with the Wichita Falls Spudders, a semiprofessional baseball club in the West Texas-New Mexico League. He played in twenty-six games for the Spudders until July 6 when he received orders to report to flight training at Hicks Field northwest of Fort Worth. During flight training, he received numerous phone calls from the New York Giants inviting him to their training camp in Wisconsin. After successfully completing the preflight training, Lummus washed out of flight training on his solo flight when the wing of his P-19 Fairchild clipped a fence on landing. Given an honorable discharge, Lummus headed to Wisconsin where he won a spot on the New York Giants 1941 roster as a backup end. As a rookie, he saw considerable playing time as a defensive end. Lummus first became aware of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during a game between the Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers at the Polo Grounds on December 7, 1941. The Texan played his final game with the New York Giants in the NFL championship game against the Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field on December 21; which the Bears won, 37-9. A few days later, Lummus drove home to Texas.

On January 30, 1942, Lummus went to Dallas and enlisted in the Marine Corps. After completing recruit training in San Diego, California, he was assigned to Mare Island, California, where he was promoted to private first class and then corporal. In October Lummus was selected for Officer Candidates School at Quantico, Virginia, from which he was commissioned a second lieutenant on December 30, 1942. In 1943 he served as an instructor in the Infantry School at Camp Elliot in San Diego. In June he was assigned as a student officer in the elite Raider Battalion at Camp Pendleton where he also served as an instructor. After the Raider Battalions were disbanded in early 1944, Lummus was reassigned to the Fifth Marine Division.

In the Fifth Marine Division, Jack Lummus was among the first wave of marines that landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. As a rifle platoon leader, Lummus’s actions on March 8 against stubborn Japanese defenders on the island’s west coast, the Nishi Ridge, earned him the Medal of Honor. After a failed initial attempt to break through enemy lines, Lummus called for tank support to provide added firepower. After personally guiding the tanks into position in rugged terrain and ignoring hostile fire, he directed his men against the enemy. Moving forward in front of his men, Lummus with his carbine spotted an enemy pillbox that he quickly destroyed with several fragmentation grenades. At the same time, Lummus was wounded in the shoulder and knocked off his feet from an enemy grenade, from a second pillbox. After regaining his composure, he destroyed the second pillbox and returned to his platoon. Urging his men forward and with little concern for his own fate, he saw a third enemy pillbox that he quickly destroyed. He continued to urge his men to move forward firing his carbine into enemy foxholes and spider traps. The one-man attack ended, however, when Lummus stepped on a mine that ripped off the lower half of his body. Somehow, Lummus pulled himself up and continued to give orders; “Don’t stop now! Keep going!” Inspired by their leader, the platoon continued to move forward, and by nightfall the Japanese line of defense had been broken.

The wounded Texan was carried on a stretcher to the battalion’s aid station and given emergency aid. To the medical personal attending him, Lummus said “Well, Doc, the New York Giants lost a mighty good end today.” A few minutes later he was taken to a field hospital where he died on the operating table. The following day, First Lt. Jack Lummus was buried in the Fifth Marine Division cemetery on Iwo Jima.

Jack Lummus was one of the twenty-seven marines awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics on Iwo Jima. Rear Adm. Joseph Clark presented Laura Lummus her son’s Medal of Honor in a memorial service in Ennis on May 30, 1946. On April 20, 1948, Lummus was reburied at the Myrtle Cemetery in Ennis. In 1986 the United States Navy honored the Texas hero with the naming of a new maritime prepositioning ship—the USNS 1st LT Jack Lummus. On December 22, 1986, the Jack Lummus Memorial Park was dedicated in Ennis. Also in Ennis, the Jack Lummus Intermediate School is named in honor of the Lone Star hero.

Although his career with the New York Giants consisted of his rookie 1941 season, Andrew Jackson Lummus, Jr., viewed his service to his country in time of war more important than any athletic accomplishment. Lummus was one of only two players (along with former Detroit Lion Maurice Britt of Arkansas) from the National Football League to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. In December 1945 the New York Giants erected a plaque honoring Lummus. A memorial exhibit containing his original Medal of Honor citation is on display at Baylor University.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Gary L. Bloomfield, Duty, Honor, Victory: America’s Athletes in World War II (Guilford, Connecticut: The Lyons Press, 2003). “First Lieutenant Jack Lummus, USMCR (Deceased),” Who’s Who in Marine Corps History,United States Marine Corps History Division (https://www.mcu.usmc.mil/historydivision/Pages/Who%27s%20Who/J-L/Lummus_J.aspx) accessed October 30, 2013. Mary Hartman, Texas Granite: Story of a World War II Hero (Dallas: Hendrick-Long Publishing Company, 1996). Major General Fred Haynes and James A Warren, The Lions of Iwo Jima: The Story of Combat Team 28 and the Bloodiest Battle in Marine Corps History (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2008). Jack Lummus (www.jacklummus.com), accessed October 30, 2013. Richard F. Newcomb, Iwo Jima (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965). Rob Newell, From Playing Field to Battlefield: Great Athletes Who Served in World War II (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2006). New York Times, February 19, 2005. Waco Tribune-Herald, July 10, 2011.

Henry Franklin Tribe

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Henry Franklin Tribe, "LUMMUS, ANDREW JACKSON, JR. [JACK]," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/flupb), accessed July 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 13, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.