After being promoted to Second Lt. again in 1928, Puller was sent to Nicaragua with the National Guard. Here he earned his first of five Navy Crosses. In 1931, he returned to the US to finish officer training. Immediately following, he returned to Nicaragua and earned his second Navy Cross. From 1933 to 1936, Puller was sent to China to command the Horse Marines and the USS Augusta.
At the start of World War II, Puller was stationed in Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Here he saved three companies that were surrounded by the Japanese. He was able to maneuver his troops safely to shore. During the three hour battle, his force incurred 70 casualties, while the Japanese saw 1400 casualties. Puller was shot twice by a sniper during the battle, earning him the Purple Cross. Surviving the injury, Puller was awarded his third Navy Cross and promoted to executive officer of the 7th Marine Regiment. Due to his leadership, he was awarded his fourth Navy Cross. After WWII, he went on the command the Marines Barracks at Pearl Harbor.
When the war in Korea broke out in 1950, Puller was named commander of the 1st Marine Division. After just two months, he was awarded his fifth and final Navy Cross for his efforts during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, one of the most important battles of the war. After the battle, he was promoted to Brigadier General and was Assistant Division Commander of the 1st Marine Division. Soon after that, he was promoted to command the whole 1st Division but after less than a year, he was demoted to his previous job. He then returned to the U.S where he retired due to medical reasons. In 1966, he tried to return to active duty for the Vietnam War, but was denied due to age. He died on October 1, 1971 at the age of 71.