Sunday, June 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Chesty Puller

Lou Diamond might have been the perfect Marine, but nobody doubts that Chesty Puller was the Marine's Marine. Lewis Burwell Puller was born on this day in 1898. He died in 1971, having served the bulk of his life as a Marine. He remains the most-decorated Marine of all time and was awarded the Navy Cross five times. The Navy Cross is one step short of the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor that the United States gives. I'm not sure if Chesty is the only person ever to receive five Navy Crosses, but it wouldn't surprise me. It only surprises me that he never was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was one serious bad ass, and he believed in leading from the front. Unlike some presidents we might have who favor leading from behind (I'm looking at you, Barry.)

Chesty was a mustang -- a man who started as enlisted but earned an officer's commision -- who wound up a lieutenant general, the second-highest rank in the U.S. military. He served in some of the Marine Corps' most famous battles, including Guadalcanal and Peleliu during World War II, and Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. Puller's 1st Marine Regiment was critical in getting the 1st Marine Division out of the grasp of more than seven Chinese divisions. There are various versions of the quote, but he is known to have said something along these lines at the time:
“All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…they can’t get away this time.”
Chesty was a bad ass. Happy birthday, Chesty, or, as Marines say nightly all over the world until this day, "Good night, Chesty Puller, where ever you are."

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