John Antonelli's battalion from the 27th Marines moved out at 7;30 A.M. to begin the push on the fifth Division front, Easy Company, led by twenty nine year old 1st Lieutenant Jack Lummus, was the spearhead and immediately came under scathing small arms and mortar fire. Despite the storm of resistance in the heavily mined area of caves and concrete emplacements, Lummus's men ground out an advance of some two hundred yards during the morning.
Then the attack bogged down, halted by a complex of bunkers and pillboxes. Oblivious to a torrent of machine gun bullets, grenades, & mortars, Lummus stood upright and was sprinting forward to rally the troops when a grenade blast knocked him to the ground.
Stunned by the concussion, but otherwise miraculously uninjured, the lanky officer from Ennie, Texas, got to his feet and charged the position from whence came the grenade. He killed the occupants with a single sweep of his submachine gun, but fragments from another grenade ripped into his shoulder before there was time to take cover.
Hardly faltering despite his wounds, Lummus swarmed another emplacement & wiped out its three occupants. Only then did he motion for the company to follow. With himself 20 yards in front, shouting Marines were surging forward when the lieutenant vanished from sight in the thunderclap of an explosion that sent rocks & dirt skyward. The men could see Lummus when the debris settled.
"We thought he was standing in a hole," one of them said. A land mine had blown off his legs. On bloody stumps, the lieutenant waved and shouted: "Keep coming! Goddamnit, keep coming! Don't stop now!"
Several ragged, dirty, tired, cursing riflemen, some with tears now flowing down grimy faces, ran to his side to see if they could do anything. A comrade since the long-ago days when the division trained at Camp Pendleton wondered aloud whether or not to shoot him to end his agony-a not surprising reaction that immediately passed since Lummus continued shouting: "Goddamnit, keep coming! Don't stop now!"
Tears turned to raging fury as Easy Company swept ahead an incredible three hundred yards, overwhelming foxholes and pillboxes and bunkers, bolting across ravines and scrambling up ridges, blasting cave entrances and sniper pits. The spark that ignited the steamroller charge was the horrifying sight of their mortally wounded, indomitable commander and his fathomless courage, Seeing him, the men knew what they had to do.
Surgeons at the Fifth Division hospital were powerless to stop the massive bleeding draining Lummus's life away. All they could do was relieve his pain with morphine and give him blood transfusions, eighteen pints in all. But a determination to live and his stamina-he'd played football and was an All American end at Baylor University, kept him alive for several hours, always conscious and sometime smiling and talking to the doctors.
"I guess the New York Giants have lost the services of a damn good end," he said at one point to Lieutenant E. Graham Evans, one of the surgeons. Lieutenant Howard Stackpole, another doctor and a fellow Texan friend, stopped by in the late afternoon. Both knew the end was near. "He was smiling and he closed his eyes and died," Stackpole remembered.
Lummus's Medal of Honor was the twentieth earned in the eighteen days since the invasion began. That night what remained of Easy Company was atop the last ridge overlooking the ocean at Kitano Point. Jack Lummus's men had advanced another two hundred yards as he was dying. To them, he was still their leader. And always would be.
Iwo Jima, Legacy of Valor, by Bill D. Ross, pg 308-9.