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Old 12-15-2018, 09:53 AM
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Thumbs up The most decorated marine in us history: His life, his legacy

By: Nathan - Aug 20, 2018

Bravery and courage is something we must all aspire to attain. Also, we must always aim to be hard working and efficient in whatever we do. A soldier is someone who puts all of these qualities and uses them to do something positive for his country. Since they are putting their lives on the line and sacrificing their safety for their country, they are often awarded for their efforts. Here is a man who lies above all to become the most awarded militant ever. Read how he became such an inspirational person in the military community.

Hard Beginnings

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Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller came to this earth all the way back in the year 1898. He was born to a family living in West Point, Virginia. If you pay attention to the military and what they do, you would know that America’s most notable military academy is also named West Point. Puller had always wanted to join the military from a young age and he was not about to let any obstacle stop him from achieving the goals he has set for himself even at a tender age…

His idols

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His dad worked as a grocer but unfortunately lived till Puller was ten years old. Even with this happening, Puller still had a lot of masculine influence in his life. How, you ask? He would often listen to the stories and incidents shared by heroes during the American Civil War, putting them on a high pedestal. After a few years, even Puller would be standing in these heroes’ position too. His climb to the top was nothing short of a struggle, but he was determined to try even if he was knocked down…

Need for Action

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Puller went into his teenage year by the year 1916 came. Since he drew so much inspiration from the war heroes and the men that fought in the war, he wanted to make these a memory too. This lad from Virginia attempted to get enlisted into the U.S. Army to join in the Border War with Mexico. He was still a little too young for this, moreover, his mom would not sign the permission slip. So what could the young aspiring militant do to be inducted to the military?

Fruitless Beginnings

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After his unsuccessful attempt to get into the military, Puller went through quite a sad experience. He was very bummed out that his dreams could not be fulfilled after giving it his first try. But this was not uncommon in the military world as many young boys would get rejected for being too young. He did not want to give up so he tried once again. Will he ever get to live out his dreams and serve his country in time of need? Would he be able to become a man he himself can be proud of?

Finally Enlisted

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Puller’s desperate attempts to join in the military proved to be fruitful at last, when he was enlisted to the Virginia Military Institute in 1917. They had their training inside the United States borders which was definitely not enough for the eager young man. He was doing all that he could to join in the fight in the First World War. This was indeed a very disappointing realization for the young man who only wanted to serve his land and fight enemies more than anything.

The Great War

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Puller was always up for anything if he knew it would bring him closer to fighting in the war. Men, back then even revealed that his main aim was to just “go where the guns are”. This was during the time the United States was a part of what became known as the Great War in the April of the same year. He was in such a hurry but would get his chance sooner than he expected. So would the young soldier get to do what his heart had longed for all those years?

'Chesty" In the Marines

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Since there was nothing that was going to stop Puller from getting to use guns and fight for his country, he decided that leaving the Virginian institution would do him some good. He did so in August 1918 and got enlisted to the United States Marine Corps privately. There he was one step closer to achieving his goals and even ended up changing some aspects of the institution.

With The French and British

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Puller then joined the elite branch’s boot camp that was located on Parris Island in South Carolina. Puller had reportedly drawn an inspiration from the Marines who were doing their best, together with the French and British army at the 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood, in France. This was yet another plan of puller’s that did not go as he had hoped…

Little too Late

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It turns out that Chesty Puller was a little too late join in the action of World War I. Unfortunately, even before he was ready to prove himself, the war ended without him having a chance to fire even a single shot. If this was the only thing that mattered, then this guy would not turn out the way he did. Who could have predicted that he would become such a hero?


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After getting all of his training done, Puller finally graduated as a second lieutenant in his home state by the year 1919. Since the war was already over by the time he graduated, it turned out that he was an excessive requirement due to the peace cutback. Even though this was the case, Puller was not disheartened and he was still up for a challenge.

Destined And Determined

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We must remember that the Marines are known for never giving up. And Puller, whose name is still included in the Marines chant in boot camp even today, was the epitome of the “Devil Dog” Marine spirit. He decided to reenlist himself as a corporal even after the war. Puller joined the paramilitary police in Haiti, the Gendarmerie d’Haiti.

Serving In Teh Caribbean

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This particular force was responsible for maintaining peace and harmony in the Caribbean country during the time the United States still occupied it under President Woodrow Wilson’s rule. Puller took this as a chance to have his first battle outside of the United States borders. He ended up spending 5 years in Haiti, where he took part in 40 operations fighting insurgents. This was only the beginning…

The Banana Wars

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Once again Puller was under commission as a second lieutenant in the year 1924. This took place after he served his time in Haiti. The following four years were spent by Puller going around several bases in Virginia, working hard as a trainer. This was often referred to as the calmest time in Puller’s life before all hell broke loose for him.

Battle In South America

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Puller was now 30 years of age and in the same year, he spent his time traveling all the way to Nicaragua, to join in the fight against insurgents that are opposing the U.S. occupation. So here in the South American country, Puller finally found something he had been longing for. Puller was now in the presence of a brutal fight and he could finally make use of all his training.


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While serving in Nicaragua, Puller was able to secure his first Navy Cross. This, if you are not aware, is the second-highest military award for valor who has taken part in a battle. He was awarded this because he helped fight off the Sandinista rebels the stood against the U.S. occupation of the country. He received this in the year 1930 after leading the whole Nicaraguan National Guard troop to win.

Deserving A Medal Of Honor

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This was the first ever Navy Cross that Puller would get from the 5 he earned during his time at the military. There are several people who share the sentiment that Puller deserves to get the Medal of Honor as he had done an extensively good job but “Chesty” Puller is still talked about to this day even without awards. So what exactly made him a superstar in the military?

Outnumbered? No Problem

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Puller receiving the Navy Cross award was something truly deserved. The award was given to him because he leads his troop to win “five successful engagements against superior numbers of armed bandit forces… with the result that the bandits were in each engagement completely routed with losses of nine killed and many wounded.”

Sandino Rebellion

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Puller’s efficiency and bravery as a leader helped the American Marines and Nicaraguan National Guardsmen to combat the insurgents in the last major fight of the Sandino Rebellion in the month of December back in 1932. This was nearing towards the end of his Central American time in the military. He truly made a big impression.

His Nickname

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Puller was given the nickname, “Chesty,” because he was always very stern and his posture was always disciplined. Puller’s image was portrayed by the men whom he led in such a way that they claimed his chest had been replaced due to the fact that some bandits slashed it off during battle. This allegedly happened during the Banana Wars, leaving him to get a steel chest.

Rumors and Claims

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There are some men who also claimed that his chest was a result of the incessant commanding and shouting he had to execute while leading his troops. “We don’t need no frontline communications,” these men have claimed, “Chesty yells commands up and down the line. You can hear him for miles.” By the time the Banana Wars ended, Puller slowly raised his rank in the U.S. military.

Indomitable Courage

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By the time the year 1931 came, Puller went back to America to join the 12-month Company Officers Course at Fort Benning located in Georgia. However, Puller did find himself back in the land of Nicaragua by the end of the year for a very short period of time. So what made him go back to the place where he left a huge impact? Read on for the answer…

2 Prolific Medals

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For the soldier who had gained notoriety for possessing a barrel chest, he only needed a week and a few days to get his second Navy Cross. He had led another troop to attain victory against the rebel Sandinistas. Puller’s time in Central America was finally over, leaving the region with 2 prolific medals. His adventure was just getting started though…

The China Marines

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Puller’s time in Central America was finally done and not it was time for a new chapter in his military career. So now what was in store for Chesty Puller? He had moved on after receiving a posting all the way to the east side of the world in China. His unit was called the China Marines and who better than Puller to lead it? Their duty was to guard the American diplomatic service in Beijing.

Shanghai Days

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In the following years, Puller’s service been required in East Asia, also joining the USS Augusta and also back in Philadelphia to train some troops. However, Puller had to get back to Shanghai, China where he was appointed as the executive officer. There, in the Chinese coastal city, Puller and the unit he led would be faced with one of the most chaotic battles ever…


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In Shanghai, the summer in the year 1941, the then-acting battalion commander Puller wen into a non-commissioned officers meeting. The air was heavy as the United States might have to go into the Second World War any time. A sergeant inquired Puller how he would handle the situation if Japan began “shooting war” to get the United States to fight in the Second Great War. Puller simply said, “I don’t know what the United States Government will do; I don’t know what Marine Headquarters will do; and I don’t know what the regiment will do. But – no orders to the contrary – I’ll take my battalion and fight my way the hell back to Frisco.”

Blowing Up

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By the month of August in 1941, Lt. Puller took charge of the Marine battalion in North Carolina. He was going to be able to walk the walk this time around as Japan dropped a bomb in Pearl Harbor forcing America to join World War II. So in September the next year, Puller and his men were sent to the South Pacific island of Guadalcanal. These men would battle Germany, Japan, and Italy for 6 long months and this was only the start…

Fast Thinker

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After reaching Guadalcanal, Puller and his men were deep in a ferocious battle. He ended up saving three of his troops’ lives. The Japanese force was bigger in number and was encircling them. Puller then dashed to shore to summon a United States Navy destroyer and lead this destroyer to fire against the enemies while the Marines were taken out of dangerous situations. Chesty Puller proved to everyone and himself that he was a man of his word, that he was no coward.

Third Navy Cross

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Puller’s Guadalcanal episode went on to earn him his third Navy Cross when the year ended. His heroic deeds were worthy of a Hollywood movie. Tropical rainfall heavily poured from the South Pacific skies and Puller’s troops with another infantry unit were heavily firing at each other. Puller and his men were giving their all, protecting an air base the US had taken from the Japanese at the beginning of the year. So how did this play out?

During the Night Time

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The Japanese tried hard to snatch the air base from the American troops by sending an excessive amount of men to combat which still proved to be fruitless. Puller and his crew had to ward off the Japanese crew for 3 long hours, which lead the Japanese men to give up. The Americans had 70 casualties while the Japanese had about 1,400. The citation of his award read “Courageously withstanding the enemy’s desperate and determined attacks,” adding that the now lieutenant colonel was “largely responsible for the successful defense of the sector assigned to his troops.”

Getting Wounded

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Following the epic battle of holding down the airfield that night in October, Puller nominated two men from his crew to receive the Medals of Honor, something which he never got to receive. A battle in Guadalcanal, left him injured in the leg seven times by shrapnel in a single engagement. He responded to his doctor with these famous words where “Pullerisms,” was born. “Evacuate me, hell! Take that tag and label a bottle with it. I will remain in command!” the service newspaper Marine Corps Times had quoted him saying this in 1948.

Unfathomable Bravery

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Puller became an executive officer of the 7th Marine Regiment after this epic airfield battle. In the month of January in 1944, his courage was exhibited once more in the Pacific. With his men, he did something truly commendable once again. Puller and his crew were faced with the Japanese machine guns and mortar fire at the Battle of Cape Gloucester in the New Guinea region. The lieutenant colonel pulled off a counteroffensive, that managed to earn him Navy Cross number 4. His dreams came true during his next battle…

Loved Ones Lost

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Puller took command of the 1st Marine Regiment during the battle in Peleliu which resulted in one of the most intense battles ever to be recorded in the Marine Corps history. He went on to get one of the two Legion of Merit awards he would receive. They hand out this award to men who have shown outstanding meritorious conduct. His battles were not all something to celebrate about as his brother Samuel D. Puller was sniped by the enemies in Guam. Puller had to go back home right after. Though this war was indeed eventful and something to remember, his iconic battles were far from over.

People Person

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Chesty Puller resided with his men as there were no officers’ messes in his units. Puller rejected all the luxuries he was entitled to and decided to eat and live like the men he commanded. The tradition for the Marine officers to have their food last originated from Puller ways. He once sent a soldier back to the division headquarters while he was on patrol, letting him carry a note. The runner inquired if there was anything he could bring back for the colonel. “Well, old man,” Puller responded, “Get soap, tobacco and mail for the men.”

For The Wounded

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Puller showed concern and interest in troops that were not even from his unit area. Every man who ever had to go to military jail would return to him after serving their respective time and they would mostly stop going to military jail after. He would even drop in to visit his men at the hospital. The men wounded due to the 1st Battalion was given a personal letter from Puller which says: “The officers and men of the 1st Battalion, Seventh Marines, recall with pride the part that you played in our success against the enemy until you received your injury in action.”

The Perfect Soldier

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Puller was not just celebrated recently, in fact, he had been a favorite even during the time of his service. Reminiscing about the battle on Guadalcanal where Puller had been wounded, Sergeant Leopold Jupiter, the then Marine Combat Correspondent spoke about Chesty Puller calling him an ideal Marine. “On Guadalcanal where heroes are made, I have found a man whom many call ‘the perfect soldier,’” Jupiter explained, “I picture my perfect soldier to be an inspiring leader of men, a fighting fool, a kind and tolerant officer, and above all, a fearless warrior.” Puller did not stop there just yet…

Second Major War

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By the time November of 1944 came, puller had to make his return back home in the United States to take charge of the Infantry Training Regiment based at Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, North Carolina. This happened just a few months after his brother died. Being trained by him alone would be an honor. Following World War II there were commands that came in from New Orleans and at Pearl Harbor. The Korean War commenced by June 1950, that gave Puller and the U.S. Marines another chance to prove themselves.

Surrounded Doesn't Mean Lost

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To show just how Communists from Japanese his prowess, Puller once again commanded the First Marine Regiment to victory at Incheon in South Korea in the month of September 1950. He went on to win a Silver Star because of his work and after three months his involvement at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir got him his fifth Navy Cross. While fighting in the Korean War, Puller let out on his most famous Pullerisms ever. “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.”

Most Decorated Marine

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To add his to his incredible five Navy Crosses and various medals that Puller had already won, Puller then received an Army Distinguished Service Cross, thereby positioning him as the most decorated militant of all United States Marines in history without getting to receive the Medal of Honor still. Puller has once revealed, “it takes a lifetime to become a good officer.” Even if he did not receive the Medal Of Honor, it has not stopped Puller to be considered one of the most talked about personalities of militants in US history.

Lewis Burwell Puller, Jr.

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Puller had a son whom he named Lewis Burwell Puller Jr. who was also a Marine lieutenant just like his father. he served in the Vietnam War and during the time he served in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, Puller Jr. lived through a mine explosion that wounded him severely. This was while he had a battle with the Viet Cong insurgents. Chesty could not hold back his tears seeing his son get terribly wounded at the hospital. Lewis Jr. was a literary man too. He took home the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for his autobiography Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet. The family had a bloodline strong with warriors and brave men if you look at their family tree.

Military Giants

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Army General George S. Patton was actually Chesty Puller’s fourth cousin. George S. Patton was one of the leading men who led the World War II victory for the USA. Puller was also related to Lewis Burwell, a colonel who served in the Virginia militia while the American Revolutionary War took place. Chesty’s granddad was even a Confederate Major in the Civil War plus 4 great-uncles on his from his mom’s side of the family also participated in the War Between the States. His great-uncle leads the Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg too…

Puller's Hero

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Like we had said before, Puller drew a lot of his inspirations from the civil war while growing up. The Civil War got over by 1865 which was actually 30 years he was even born. He met a lot of those war veterans who ended up being his heroes as a young man. His biggest idol was Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. He had similar traits with the rigid general too. Puller was famous for his cigar-chewing and his strong jawline and his lack of tolerance for America’s enemies. His sheer determination and diligence is something that ranks him on the same level as his idols.

A Legacy

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His unprecedented leadership skills and fearlessness is something that has set Puller’s legacy in stone. The Marine Corps’ mascot, a purebred English bulldog is named “Chesty Pullerton.” Marines would often close off the night by chanting, “Good night, Chesty Puller, wherever you are!” They would also shout out while shoving each other, “Chesty Puller never quit!” In boot camp, a marine’s comfort is to tell themselves, “It was good for Chesty Puller, and it’s good enough for me.” Every year, a Marine Corps detachment from Fort Lee, Virginia, would run a 66-mile distance all the way to Puller’s grave in his honor. His legacy lives on indeed.


What a story!


O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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