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GEN Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller

GEN Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller

Birth
West Point, King William County, Virginia, USA
Death 11 Oct 1971 (aged 73)
Hampton, Hampton City, Virginia, USA
Burial Christchurch, Middlesex County, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 4055 · View Source
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United States Marine Corps General. He is most remembered for his action in 1951 during the Korean War, when he led the mixed United Nations Army out of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, while surrounded by several Chinese Communist Armies of far greater strength. At the time, a reporter pointed out that he was surrounded, and asked him what he would do. He replied "The bastards aren't going to get away this time" (words to that effect; the actual words spoken differ with the source). His "attack to the rear" successfully saved the UN Army from almost certain defeat. His awards include the Navy Cross (5 awards), the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit (two awards, with Valor device), the Bronze Star (with V device), the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, and numerous campaign and foreign awards. He was called "Chesty" not only for his bull chest, but also for his fearlessness and devotion to duty. Born in West Point, Virginia, he served over 37 years in the United States Marine Corps; most was spent overseas. In August 1918, he left the Virginia Military Institute at the end of his freshman year to enlist in the Marine Corps, but World War I was over before he could go to Europe. On June 16 1919, he received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, Marine Corps Reserves, but was released from active duty only ten days later during a reduction in post-war forces. He then joined the Gendarmerie d'Haiti, a Haitian military/police force made up of United States military leading Haitian soldiers. After five years in Haiti fighting rebels, he rejoined the USMC in March 1924 as a 2nd Lieutenant. In December 1928, he was assigned to Nicaragua, where the United States government was again fighting rebels, and quickly won the first of five Navy Crosses for valor. After attending the Company Officer's Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, he returned to Nicaragua and earned a second Navy Cross. In January 1933, he returned to the United States only to ship out to China one month later, where he commanded the famed China "Horse Marines." In June 1936 he was an instructor in the Basic Marine School in Philadelphia, and rejoined the "USS Augusta" as the Marine Detachment Commander in 1939. In 1940, he was in Shanghai, China, and returned to the United States in August 1941, where he took command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division at Camp Lejeune. In September 1942, the unit went to Guadalcanal, where Puller earned his third Navy Cross. He won a fourth Navy Cross at Cape Gloucester in January 1944. In February 1944, he commanded the 1st Marine Regiment and led them to Peleliu, returning to the United States in January 1945 to command the Marine Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Lejeune. In August 1946, he became director of the 8th Marine Reserve District at New Orleans, then commanded the Marine Barracks at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii until August 1950, when he became commander of the reestablished 1st Marine Regiment, to lead them at Inchon, Korea during the Korean War. In January 1951, after successful evacuation from the Chosin Reservoir, he was promoted to Brigadier General and eventually became commander of the 3rd Marine Division in January 1952. Promoted to Major General in September 1953, he assumed command of the 2nd Marine Division in 1954. He was appointed Deputy Camp Commander of Camp Lejeune in February 1955, retiring a year later. In 1966, he requested a return to Active Duty for Vietnam, but was turned down due to his age. He died in Hampton, Virginia, after a long illness.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 25 Nov 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 4055
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for GEN Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller (26 Jun 1898–11 Oct 1971), Find A Grave Memorial no. 4055, citing Christ Church Cemetery, Christchurch, Middlesex County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .