Lieutenant General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller Historical Marker
This historical marker is located near the childhood home of Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller, the most decorated United States Marine. Puller joined the Marines in 1918 as the nation entered World War and he remained in the service until 1955 I. Puller was known for his bravado during his service in World War II and the Korean War and he also deployed to Haiti, China, and Nicaragua. Over his 37 years of service, Puller was awarded five Navy Crosses for heroism in combat, the Purple Heart, Silver Star, and numerous other medals.
Backstory and Context
Born on June 26, 1898 in West Point, Virginia, Lewis B. Puller enrolled in the Virginia Military Institute in 1917. After one year, he dropped out of college and joined the Marines. World War I ended before Puller was deployed to France but he remained in the military and was promoted to Second Lieutenant in the Marine Reserves. After a reduction of force, Puller reenlisted in the Gendarmerie d’Haiti and fought in over 40 battles over the next five years.
After being promoted to Second Lieutenant again in 1928, Puller was sent to Nicaragua with the National Guard where he was awarded the first of five Navy Crosses. In 1931, he returned to the US to finish officer training. He soon returned to Nicaragua where he 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 where he saved three companies surrounded by the Japanese. Thanks to his leadership, his troops were able to maneuver safely to shore. During the three hour battle, his force incurred 70 casualties, while the Japanese endured 1400 casualties. Puller was shot twice by a sniper during the battle, earning him the Purple Heart. 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 Korean War began 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 1st Division but after less than a year. 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 his request was denied due to his advanced age. Puller died on October 1, 1971 at the age of 71.
Cole Kingseed, "Chesty: The Story of Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller, USMC," Naval War College Review: Vol. 55 : No. 1 (2002).
Fisher, Bernard. Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller. The Historical Marker Database. June 16, 2016. April 14, 2019. https://www.hmdb.org/Marker.asp?Marker=60948.
Fisher, Bernard. Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller. The Historical Market Database. June 16, 2016. April 14, 2019. https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=17540.