Meet America’s NFL Legend Who Went From Losing Super Bowl in Rookie Season to Earning Medal of Honor

Remembering the NFL hero who transformed his loss in the Super Bowl into a heroic journey, ultimately becoming a Medal of Honor recipient.

Published on Jun 02, 2024  |  05:01 PM IST |  69.2K
Meet America’s NFL Legend Jack Lummus (PC:Twitter)
Meet America’s NFL Legend Jack Lummus (PC:Twitter)

Memorial Day is a federal day meant to commemorate those who perished while serving in the armed forces. A reflection on the remarkable life of NFL player and Medal of Honor recipient Jack Lummus marks them. 

Amidst the barbecues, parades, and war movie marathons, it's important to delve into the stories of genuine American heroes, like Lummus. Fans will learn more about those whose sacrifices should never be forgotten.

Honoring NFL Legend Jack Lummus

Jack Lummus was born in Ennis, Texas. He was raised with a passion for sports and he excelled as a high school athlete. Baylor University recognized his athletic talent and offered him football and baseball scholarships. 


Lummus embraced these opportunities, becoming a standout end on the football field. Not only that, he is the All-Southwest Conference center fielder who has been on the baseball diamond for three consecutive years.

Despite his athletic success, Lummus's path took an unexpected turn when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in May 1941. While awaiting deployment for flight school, he briefly played minor-league baseball. 

However, Lummus's dreams of becoming a pilot were dashed when he clipped a fence with a wingtip during his first solo flight. This incident resulted in his dismissal from flight school. Undeterred by this setback, Lummus pursued another avenue for his athletic talents. 

He joined the New York Giants' training camp in 1941, earning a spot on the roster and playing nine games in the 1941 season. His football career seemed promising, with the Giants making it to the championship game that year. However, the events of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent call to arms compelled Lummus to reassess his priorities.

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In January 1942, Lummus decided to enlist in the Marine Corps. This decision marked the beginning of his military journey. His previous experience in the Army Air Corps and professional football gave him a unique perspective. 

After enlisting, Lummus underwent rigorous training, eventually earning a commission as a Second Lieutenant in December 1942. Despite his relatively late entry into military service, Lummus's first taste of combat came during the intense Battle of Iwo Jima in February 1945.

As the executive officer of F Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, Lummus found himself at the forefront of the assault on Iwo Jima's treacherous shores. Leading his men with unwavering courage and determination, Lummus demonstrated exceptional leadership under fire.

On March 6, 1945, Lummus assumed command of E Company's third rifle platoon, thrusting himself into the heart of the battle. During a daring assault on an enemy stronghold near Kitano Point, Lummus's athleticism and "win at all costs" attitude galvanized his men to push forward. Ignoring his own injuries, he single-handedly assaulted enemy positions, clearing the way for his fellow Marines.

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At that moment, Lummus stepped on a land mine while charging a fortified enemy emplacement. Despite receiving life-ending wounds, Lummus's heroic actions on the battlefield left an indelible mark.

After being evacuated to the Fifth Division hospital, Lummus fought bravely for his life. He received extensive medical treatment in a desperate bid to save him. Despite the best efforts of his doctors and the transfusion of 18 pints of blood, his injuries proved to be too severe. 

NFL Hero's Path to Medal of Honor

In his final moments, Lummus's thoughts turned to his beloved New York Giants, remarking to a surgeon, "I guess the New York Giants have lost the services of a damn good end."

With those words, Lummus left a legacy of courage, sacrifice, and dedication to his country. His actions on the battlefield earned him the nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. He was awarded for his extraordinary heroism and selfless service.

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An excerpt from Lummus's Medal of Honor citation captures the essence of his gallantry. He said, “Although knocked to the ground when an enemy grenade exploded close by, he immediately recovered himself and, again moving forward despite the intensified barrage, quickly located, attacked, and destroyed the occupied emplacement.” 

He also added, “Determined to crush all resistance, he led his men indomitably, personally attacking foxholes and spider traps with his carbine and systematically reducing the fanatic opposition, until, stepping on a land mine, he sustained fatal wounds.”

Also read: Remembering Charles Haley: NFL Hall of Famer and His Controversial Behavior in Team Meetings

Jack Lummus's story serves as a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in the armed forces. Let us know in the comments if you were inspired by Lummus's brave story. 
Also read: Do You Remember When LeBron James Called NFL Owners 'Old White Men' With 'Slave Mentality'?

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