#VeteranOfTheDay New Years Day 2016 – Lewis “Chesty” Puller

Happy New Year Marines! Semper Fi!


Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is the most revered Marine to ever strike fear in the hearts of the enemy. Lewis Burwell Puller, known affectionately by all Marines as “Chesty,” served in the United States Marine Corps in World War I, countless skirmishes in Central and South America, World War II, and Korea. He enlisted as a Private in 1918 and rose to the rank of Lt. Gen. before being medically retired after suffering a stroke in 1955.Chesty_4

Marines the world over recount true and exaggerated tales of Chesty’s heroism, not only in the face of the enemy, but standing up for and taking great care of his Marines as well. His leadership compass was so accurate that after discharging his .45 caliber pistol indoors, a mistake that would normally be a $20 fine for a Marine, Chesty fined himself $100. That kind of leadership has inspired thousands of Marines to lead from the front and set the example for their junior Marines.

Chesty is most famous for his courage in battle. His quotes are used by Marine Drill Instructors and Gunnery Sergeants on a routine basis in order to build confidence and the war fighting spirit in Marines. Quotes like:

Chesty_2“We’re surrounded. That simplifies the problem.”

“They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29:1. They can’t get away now.”

And most famously…When an Army captain asked him for the direction of the line of retreat, Chesty radioed his Tank Commander, gave his tanks the Army position, and ordered:

“If they start to pull back from that line, even one foot, I want you to open fire on them.”
Turning to the captain, Chesty bellowed, “Does that answer your question? We’re here to fight!”

Chesty is one of the most decorated Marines in history, but his accolades go far beyond his five Navy Crosses, Army Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and three Air Medals. He has a U.S. Navy frigate and the new mobile landing platform named after him, the headquarters building for 2nd Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team is named Puller Hall, Route 33 in Middlesex County, Virginia is named General Puller Highway, he was honored with his own stamp by the United States Postal Service, and the Marine Corps mascot is always named Chesty Pullerton.

Chesty passed away Oct. 11, 1971, but his memory and his legacy lives on in every Marine who has earned the eagle, globe and anchor. The phrase “one more for Chesty!” is one of the most common phrases uttered in the Marine Corps and we see it fitting to kick off the New Year with a tribute to one of the bravest fighting men to every enlist in the United States military.

We honor your service, Chesty. Oorah! Semper Fi!

What is your favorite quote from Chesty Puller?


James Killen

–James Killen is a public affairs specialist and member of VA’s digital engagement team. James is a Louisville, Kentucky, native who enlisted in the Marine Corps five days after high school. As a CH46E mechanic he deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the initial invasion, and then to the Al Anbar Province 04-05. James is currently a member of the Kentucky Air National Guard and serves as the public affairs officer for the 123rd Airlift Wing. He is a father of three beautiful girls, a huge Chicago Cubs fan and a die-hard Kentucky Wildcat. Go Big Blue!


  1. Jim Carroll    

    .I get chills when I read stories about Chesty. We even said a prayer to him when at boot camp. You Marines remember that. I’m proud to have been a Marine. Made me a man. Made me grow up fast from a boy who didn’t know what he wanted to the man I am now. Give it all to the Marine Corps and Marines like Chesty Puller. To all you Marines out there God bless you and Marines Semper Fi



  3. Samuel J Mullins    

    Chesty should have been made Commadant of the Marine Corps.

    Jim Mullins USMC 1963-1967

  4. Christopher Sutton    

    My grandfather and my father both served in the Marine Corps. My grandfather during WWII in the South Pacific and my father in Vietnam. My mom was in the Navy and retired in the Air Force. I myself served in the US Army. As you can see my family is a military family. And to read the story about Chesty makes sense now about the stories that my grandfather and father would tell. Now I can put a face to the stories. I believe in God country and the protection of our way of life.

  5. Clarice Stricker    

    I would like to nominate my Late Husband Lieutenant Col Peter Stricker. who served for 62 years . His life of love of what he did when he served is amazing. He was also a while serving in the Artic was reading the bible to the troops every Sunday.

  6. joe garcia    

    Always a Marine for Life.

  7. John Fisher    

    Chesty had a “proud son” who lost his legs in Viet Nam! Another unsung hero!

    1. Charles Tyner    

      Lt Puller was a platoon commander of G 2/1 1st Mar Div, on Oct 11th, 68 when he stepped on a IED. I was one of the Corpsman that helped treat him that day, God was with Lt Puller and Us that day. HM2 CAT.

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