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 Lewis Burwell Puller, Jr

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Lewis Burwell Puller, Jr

Author, and First Lieutenant, USMC (retired). He won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for his autobiography, "Fortunate Son." His military awards include the Silver Star, the Purple Heart (2 awards), and the Navy Commendation Medal. Cause of death: suicide (by gunshot). One of the last victims of the Vietnam War. His father was the legendary Lieutenant General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, the most decorated Marine in US History. Growing up in a military family, it was only natural that he would become a lieutenant in the US Marine Corps. In 1968, he was assigned as a platoon leader in the I Corps Area of South Vietnam, during the height of the Vietnam War. On 11 October 1968, he stepped on a 155mm artillery shell that the enemy had rigged up as a land mine. The resulting explosion literally cut him in half, blowing off both of his legs, most of his buttocks, part of his stomach and intestines, and one hand. For several months he was near death, yet he survived due to his iron will. Upon his return to the US and after extensive surgery, he was retired on 100 percent disability from the Marine Corps. He obtained a law degree from the College of William and Mary, and began to oppose the Vietnam War, joining several anti-war groups, and ran for Congress from eastern Virginia on an anti-war platform, although he was defeated. For many years, he worked as a lawyer at the Pentagon. But the political turmoil of the Vietnam War, which literally tore the country apart, also played heavily on him, and he became severely despondent, becoming a heavy drinker and addicted to painkillers. By the late 1970s, he was addicted to both alcohol and painkillers. In 1981, he underwent treatment for acute alcoholism, and after many years eventually defeated those demons in his life. His 1991 autobiography, "Fortunate Son," became a best seller, and won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize. However, his depression returned, and his marriage began to unravel. In 1994, after separating from his wife, he ended his pain forever. He was married to the former Linda Todd, nicknamed Toddy, and they had two children, Lewis III, and Maggie. In his book, he remarked "Often the only way to keep that which we hold most dear is to give it away."

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 6 Jan 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 4307
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lewis Burwell Puller, Jr (18 Aug 1945–11 May 1994), Find A Grave Memorial no. 4307, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .