LAS VEGAS, NV, USA U.S. Marines PFC, B CO, 1ST BN, 3D MAR, (RCT-7, 1ST MARDIV), 3D MARDIV, MCBH, KANEOHE BAY, HI ZAIDON, IRAQ 10/30/2004
Private First Class John Lukac was born April 20, 1985, in Los Angeles, two years after his parents immigrated to the United States. They had escaped to Austria from Czechoslovakia, where they had lived under communist rule during the Cold War, separated from their native Hungary. The family moved to Las Vegas in 2001.
John was motivated to join the Marines after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. “He wanted to protect the country. He wanted to make a difference no matter what it took,” said his mother, Helena Lukac. He urged his parents to sign him up at 17, fresh out of Durango High School. If they didn’t, he told them, he would join when he turned 18. When John graduated in 2003, he had several scholarships and had been accepted to four colleges, his family said. But he wanted to first serve the country that had given his mom and dad their freedom, which came in 1983 when they fled Czechoslovakia.
Upon joining the Marines, John was assigned to the First Battalion, Third Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division. It’s part of the Third Expeditionary Force at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay in Windward, Oahu. On October 30, 2004 John met his death in car bomb in a suburb of Fallujah, Iraq, where some of the fiercest and deadliest fighting of the war has occurred. At the time of his death, John was setting up and manning checkpoints – not unlike those his father had manned during his brief military career. He was the sixth soldier with ties to Nevada killed in Iraq or Kuwait since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003, and the first to be buried locally.
“My son was very intelligent – he read a lot of books and knew things far beyond his age,” Lukac said. He is survived by his mother and father and brother. The Lukacs were catalysts in getting a Nevada war memorial established at Red Rock to honor their son and other Nevadans who have died in Southwest Asia since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.