As one of the most decorated individuals to ever serve in the US military, Lieutenant General Lewis “Chesty” Puller is something of a legend amongst members of the Marine corps, with which he served for over 3 decades prior to retirement and death. Quite fittingly for a legend, many myths have sprung up about Puller’s combat prowess many of which are amazingly, more truth than fiction.
During his career which spanned 3 wars and over a dozen notable battles Puller rose through the ranks and earned so many medals that the glare from the the area of the chest they occupied frequently downed small passing planes. In total Puller was awarded Navy Cross five god-damn times for bravery and generally being an unfuckwithable badass.
While Puller was being awarded medals by the rapidly dwindling pool of people who could say the outranked him, Puller was also being given a multitude of nicknames by the enemies he fought against in his numerous combat engagements. For example, while taking part in the Occupation of Nicaragua, Nicaraguan forces dubbed Puller “The Tiger of the Mountains” and then put a 5000 Peso bounty on his head, seemingly oblivious to the fact bounty hunters don’t tend to want to hunt down people you openly compare to a fucking tiger.
Puller further endeared himself to his fellow Marines by proving to be fearless in combat regardless of the odds, often being able to rally his men with nothing more than a wry one-liner. For example, during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, Puller and his men were surrounded on all sides by Korean forces, prompting Puller to utter a quote so dripping with bravado all living things within earshot instantly grew 3 pounds of chesthair.
“We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies things.”
Puller’s unit not only survived that encounter, but volunteered to cover their fellow marines’ retreat when it was over, with Puller famously telling his men, “We’re not retreating, we’re just attacking in a another direction.” Other badass quotes credited to Puller include calmly saying “It’s just a dud.” moments after what his men assumed was a live grenade flew into their trench before casually kicking it aside and most hilariously asking where you attached the bayonet on a flamethrower seconds after seeing it turn 30 square feet of land into Scorpion’s stage on Mortal Kombat.
Quotes like these made Puller famous amongst his fellow Marines but its his attitude that made him a legend. You see, Puller took being a marine very seriously and constantly worked to improve the conditions they worked under, endlessly lobbying for better equipment and never allowing people to treat his men with nothing but the utmost respect. A popular example of Puller’s more caring side came when he saw a Marine being force to deliver 100 salutes to a lieutenant for a minor infraction, Puller carefully observed the situation unfold before approaching and then commending the lieutenant on his dedication to good discipline, before reminding him that a commanding officer must return every salute given. Puller, who outranked the lieutenant by like, infinity ranks, then told him to return every single salute, while he kept watch.
Even today, nearly 5 decades after he died, Marines still wish Chesty a good night before they sleep and always do an extra push-up in his honor because Chesty never quit.