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Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller

Date of birth: June 26, 1898
Date of death: October 11, 1971
Place of Birth: Virginia, West Point
Home of record: Saluda Virginia

A Marine officer and enlisted man for 37 years, General Puller served at sea or overseas for all but ten of those years, including a hitch as commander of the "Horse Marines" in China. Lewis Puller, better known as "Chesty", attended Virginia Military Institute before enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1918. He was appointed a Reserve second lieutenant in 1919, but due to the reduction of the Marine Corps after World War I, was placed on inactive duty. He therefore rejoined the Marines as an enlisted man, to serve as an officer in the Gendarmerie d'Haiti, where over almost five years, where he saw frequent action against the Caco rebels. After brief state-side duty, in the 1930s he served in Nicaragua where he earned TWO Navy Crosses. During World War II he earned a THIRD Navy Cross as Guadalcanal, and 14 months later earned a FOURTH Navy Cross at Cape Gloucester, New Guinea. In Korea he landed with the 1st Marines at Inchon, Korea, in September 1950, and then lead his Marines during the Chosin Reservoir action where he earned a FIFTH Navy Cross and the Army Distinguished Service Cross. Achieving the rank of Lieutenant General, he died while on the Marine Corps temporary disabled retired list on October 11, 1971, following a long illness. His record 5 Navy Crosses (as well as the Army Distinguished Service Cross) is unmatched in U.S. Marine Corps History. General Puller's son served in Vietnam where he was seriously wounded.

AWARDS AND CITATIONS

Distinguished Service Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Korean War

The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, Korea, during the period 29 November to 4 December 1950. Colonel Puller's actions contributed materially to the breakthrough of the First Marine Regiment in the Chosin Reservoir area and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

General Orders: Headquarters, X Corps: General Orders No. 66 (December 15, 1950)

Action Date: November 29 - December 4, 1950

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Regiment: 1st Marines

Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.)

Navy Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Second Nicaraguan Campaign

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to First Lieutenant Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, for distinguished service in the line of his professional while commanding a Nicaraguan National Guard patrol. First Lieutenant Lewis B. Puller, United States Marine Corps, successfully led his forces into five successful engagements against superior numbers of armed bandit forces; namely, at LaVirgen on 16 February 1930, at Los Cedros on 6 June 1930, at Moncotal on 22 July 1930, at Guapinol on 25 July 1930, and at Malacate on 19 August 1930, with the result that the bandits were in each engagement completely routed with losses of nine killed and many wounded. By his intelligent and forceful leadership without thought of his own personal safety, by great physical exertion and by suffering many hardships, Lieutenant Puller surmounted all obstacles and dealt five successive and severe blows against organized banditry in the Republic of Nicaragua.

Action Date: February 16 - August 19, 1930

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: First Lieutenant

Division: Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua

Navy Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Second Nicaraguan Campaign

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Navy Cross to First Lieutenant Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, for exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility while in command of a Guardia Patrol from 20 September to 1 October 1932. Lieutenant Puller and his command of forty Guardia and Gunnery Sergeant William A. Lee, United States Marine Corps, serving as a First Lieutenant in the Guardia, penetrated the isolated mountainous bandit territory for a distance of from eighty to one hundred miles north of Jinotega, his nearest base. This patrol was ambushed on 26 September 1932, at a point northeast of Mount Kilambe by an insurgent force of one hundred fifty in a well-prepared position armed with not less than seven automatic weapons and various classes of small arms and well-supplied with ammunition. Early in the combat, Gunnery Sergeant Lee, the Second in Command was seriously wounded and reported as dead. The Guardia immediately behind Lieutenant Puller in the point was killed by the first burst of fire. Lieutenant Puller, with great courage, coolness and display of military judgment, so directed the fire and movement of his men that the enemy were driven first from the high ground on the right of his position, and then by a flanking movement forced from the high ground to the left and finally were scattered in confusion with a loss of ten killed and many wounded by the persistent and well-directed attack of the patrol. The numerous casualties suffered by the enemy and the Guardia losses of two killed and four wounded are indicative of the severity of the enemy resistance. This signal victory in jungle country, with no lines of communication and a hundred miles from any supporting force, was largely due to the indomitable courage and persistence of the patrol commander. Returning with the wounded to Jinotega, the patrol was ambushed twice by superior forces on 30 September. On both of the occasions the enemy was dispersed with severe losses.

Action Date: September 20 - October 1, 1932

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: First Lieutenant

Division: Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua

Navy Cross

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Second Gold Star in lieu of a Third Award of the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service as Commanding Officer of the First Battalion, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division, during the action against enemy Japanese forces on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on the night of 24 - 25 October 1942. While Lieutenant Colonel Puller's battalion was holding a mile-long front in a heavy downpour of rain, a Japanese force, superior in number, launched a vigorous assault against that position of the line which passed through a dense jungle. Courageously withstanding the enemy's desperate and determined attacks, Lieutenant Colonel Puller not only held his battalion to its position until reinforcements arrived three hours later, but also effectively commanded the augmented force until late in the afternoon of the next day. By his tireless devotion to duty and cool judgment under fire, he prevented a hostile penetration of our lines and was largely responsible for the successful defense of the sector assigned to his troops. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.

Action Date: October 24 - 25, 1942

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Battalion: 1st Battalion

Regiment: 7th Marines

Division: 1st Marine Division

Navy Cross

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Third Gold Star in lieu of a Fourth Award of the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service while serving as Executive Officer of the Seventh Marines (Reinforced), FIRST Marine Division, serving with the SIXTH United States Army, in combat against enemy Japanese forces at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, from 26 December 1943 to 19 January 1944. Assigned temporary command of the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, from 4 to 9 January, Lieutenant Colonel Puller quickly reorganized and advanced his unit, effecting the seizure of the objective without delay. Assuming additional duty in command of the Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, from 7 to 8 January, after the commanding officer and executive officer had been wounded, Lieutenant Colonel Puller unhesitatingly exposed himself to rifle, machine-gun and mortar fire from strongly entrenched Japanese positions to move from company to company in his front lines, reorganizing and maintaining a critical position along a fire-swept ridge. His forceful leadership and gallant fighting spirit under the most hazardous conditions were contributing factors in the defeat of the enemy during this campaign and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: December 26, 1943 - January 19, 1944

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Battalion: 3d Battalion

Regiment: 7th Marines (Rein.)

Division: 1st Marine Division

Navy Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Korean War

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Fourth Gold Star in lieu of a Fifth Award of the Navy Cross to Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer of the First Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against aggressor forces in the vicinity of Koto-ri, Korea, from 5 to 10 December 1950. Fighting continuously in sub-zero weather against a vastly outnumbering hostile force, Colonel Puller drove off repeated and fanatical enemy attacks upon his Regimental defense sector and supply points. Although the area was frequently covered by grazing machine-gun fire and intense artillery and mortar fire, he coolly moved along his troops to insure their correct tactical employment, reinforced the lines as the situation demanded, and successfully defended the perimeter, keeping open the main supply routes for the movement of the Division. During the attack from Koto-ri to Hungnam, he expertly utilized his Regiment as the Division rear guard, repelling two fierce enemy assaults which severely threatened the security of the unit, and personally supervised the care and prompt evacuation of all casualties. By his unflagging determination, he served to inspire his men to heroic efforts in defense of their positions and assured the safety of much valuable equipment which would otherwise have been lost to the enemy. His skilled leadership, superb courage and valiant devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds reflect the highest credit upon Colonel Puller and the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Authority: Board of Awards: Serial 1186 (November 19, 1951)

Action Date: December 5 - 10, 1950

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Regiment: 1st Marines

Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.)

Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the Korean War

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star (Army Award) to Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while Commanding the First Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces during the amphibious landing resulting in the capture of Inchon, Korea, on 15 September 1950 in the Inchon-Seoul Operation. His actions contributed materially to the success of this operation and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Military Service.

General Orders: Headquarters, Far East Command, General Orders No. 50 (October 27, 1950)

Action Date: September 15, 1950

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Regiment: 1st Marines

Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.)

Legion of Merit

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the period from 15 September through 2 October 1944.

General Orders: Heroes U.S. Marine Corps, 1861 - 1955: Jane Blakeney

Action Date: September 15 - October 2, 1944

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Legion of Merit

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Awarded for actions during the Korean War

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Colonel Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding Officer, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea from 15 September through 2 November 1950.

General Orders: Heroes U.S. Marine Corps, 1861 - 1955: Jane Blakeney

Action Date: September 15 - November 2, 1950

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Regiment: 1st Marines

Division: FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on