Chesty Puller, U.S. Marine

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Thread: Chesty Puller, U.S. Marine

  1. #1
    USMCWayne's Avatar
    USMCWayne is offline In the bush..........Nam baby!
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    Mar 2003
    Fort Worth, Texas

    Chesty Puller, U.S. Marine

    I'm a walking advertisement for those who should stay away from Sculpey...forever. I picked up some the other day, figuring to work on that Chesty Puller figure I've always wanted.

    It's a good thing I used a couple older and unwanted bodies/sculpts for my efforts, as my Chesty sculpts look like something you'd see in a horror movie. They're barely recognizeable as human beings, the coloring borders on the bizarre, and adding Sculpey to existing headsculpts only makes the head look swollen, misshappen, and unable to fit any known 1/6th helmet, even without a liner.

    But, good things sometimes happen to those who are too stupid for their own good. Just before retiring from my sculpting career, I noticed the DML Mac sculpt has many of the same characteristics of Chesty Puller.

    Maybe it's coincidental, but Lou's nose, jowels, eyes, and chin (sort of) seem very Pullerish.

    Puller, with his CP, which was a map stuffed in his back pocket.

    ...or should I have used this piece of art?

    Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller was a colorful veteran of the Korean War, four World War II campaigns, and expeditionary service in China, Nicaragua, and Haiti. He was the only Marine to win the Navy Cross five times for heroism and gallantry in combat.

    A Marine officer and enlisted man for 37 years, Puller served at sea or overseas for all but ten of those years, including a hitch as commander of the "Horse Marines" in China. Excluding medals from foreign governments, he won a total of 14 personal decorations in combat, plus a long list of campaign medals, unit citation ribbons and other awards.

    By the time Puller retired from the Corps in 1951, as a Lieutenant General, he had earned more awards than any Marine in history: five Navy Crosses, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit with "V" device, the Bronze Star with "V" device, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

    Ask any former Marine his favorite Chesty story or quote, why Chesty was so important to the Marine Corps, or what action Chesty was most famous for, and you’d get different answers to every question, every time.

    There’s the battle for Henderson Field…

    The last major Japanese effort on Guadalcanal, and the only other counterattack that had a real chance of recapturing Henderson Field from the 1st Marine Division, began on October 24, 1942. On the first night of that battle, only a single battalion stood between the Japanese Sendai Division and the vital airstrip. Luckily for the Americans, the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines (1/7), was commanded by one of the toughest and most determined leaders in the Corps-Lieutenant Colonel Lewis B. Puller. Nicknamed “Chesty” for his barrel torso, bulldog demeanor and readiness to speak his mind, he would more than earn his third of five Navy Crosses for his steadfast leadership during the fighting that would soon be christened the Battle for Henderson Field.

    Or the Frozen Chosin…

    While "attacking in a different direction" at the Frozen Chosin Reservoir Dec. 5-10, 1950, Puller earned his fifth and final Navy Cross, while in command of the 1st Marine Regiment. Ten Chinese Divisions had been sent to annihilate them, but the Marines smashed seven of the divisions during their retrograde to the sea. Facing attack from all sides, including two massive enemy attacks on the rear guard, Puller’s direct leadership ensured all casualties were evacuated, all salvageable equipment was brought out, and ensured there was enough time for the column to reach its destination.

    Chesty’s value to the Corps…

    A common incantation in the tradition of the Marine Corps is to end one's day with the declaration, "Good night Chesty, wherever you are!" But why?

    This is an often-used tribute of supreme respect to the late and legendary Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller USMC. Chesty, without a doubt, was the most outspoken Marine, the most famous Marine, the Marine who really loved to fight, the most decorated Marine in the history of the Corps. He enlisted as a Private. Through incredible fortitude and tenacity he became a living legend. He shouted battle orders in a bellow and stalked battlefields as though impervious to enemy fire as he rose to the rank of Lieutenant General. He displayed an abiding love for the Magnificent Grunts, especially the junior enlisted men who did the majority of the sacrificing and dying, and utter contempt for all staff pogues of whatever rank. During his four wars, he was the only Marine to win the Navy Cross five times for heroism and gallantry in combat. The Marines' Marine!

    No individual soldier in American history has embodied his service's ethos as has the Marine Corps' Chesty Puller. Puller went far beyond; he personally crafted the way the Marine Corps has defined itself since World War II by dint of his own personal example. The Marine tradition of having the officers eat last in common field messes in descending order of rank is a "Pullerism" as is the habit of encouraging officers to lead from the front. Puller was not the only senior Marine of World War II and Korea to put his command post on the front lines, but his stubborn habit of always doing so was unusual even among Marine leaders.

    Chesty Puller's real value to the Marine Corps lies not in his unsurpassed record in combat. Rather it resides in the legacy of leadership by example that he set every day of his military life. His uncompromising approach to tough, realistic training and his dedication to taking care of his Marines without coddling them made him a beloved figure among the enlisted personnel of the Corps. That tradition still defines the Marine Corps approach to leadership. To this day, many Marine Corps drill instructors have their troops wish Chesty good night wherever he may be.

    The Puller legend…

    At Chosen Reservoir, Puller nonchalantly told reporters, “We’ve been looking for the enemy for several days now, we've finally found them. We're surrounded. That simplifies our problem of finding these people and killing them."

    When Puller came ashore at Guadalcanal, he immediately asked where the enemy was located. After perusing one of the poor maps, he exclaimed, “Hell, I can’t make head nor tail of this…Just show me where they are!” Told the Japanese were in the hills, he responded, “All right. Let’s go get ‘em.”

    During fighting on Guadalcanal, Puller’s 1/7 was embroiled in a large fight, when he received word from the Regimental; CP to not get involved in a large fight. Puller boomed into the radio, “If you’d get off your ass and come up here where the fighting is, you could see the situation.” At least a few officers and men present thought he was talking directly to the Colonel.

    At Henderson Field, Company Commander Regain Fuller called the CP with the news he was running low on ammunition. Chesty replied in his typically brusque, devil-may-care manner, “You’ve got bayonets, haven’t you?”

    At Peleliu, the 321st Infantry was ordered to relieve the 1st Marines. The 321st Regimental CO was surprised when he met with Puller in close proximity to the front lines. Believing he must be at the 1st Marines forward observation post, he asked Puller where CP was. Puller replied n his usually gravely voice, “Right here”. Thinking he’d been misunderstood, the Army colonel asked again, with more emphasis, “I mean your command post”. Puller spat and repeated with equal stress, “Right here!. Shortly after, the Army commander set up his own CP a thousand yards to the rear.

    Between WW II and Korea, Puller was in charge of the Marine Barracks at Pearl Harbor. When a board of senior Navy officers came to Pearl Harbor, looking for sites to shut down and save money in the cash-strapped post-WW II era, one of the installations they set their sights on was the Marine rifle range at Puuloa Point. A Navy Captain described Puller as a witness. “We found Puller to have a marvelous command of profane English and the ability to express himself in graphic terms, and he quickly persuaded us to let the Marines keep their rifle range. He said that Marines without a rifle range were no better than damned soldiers. And that was one of his milder statements”.

    In California, while preparing for the Inchon landings, a recent Naval Academy lieutenant with WW II service, grew irritated when a scruffy character sitting on a desk interrupted him while he was reporting in. The characters grizzled image, rumpled utility cap, and sun-bleached field uniform made the lieutenant think he was an Old Corps Gunnery Sergeant. Instead, much to the lieutenant’s chagrin, he noticed the silver eagles, after he made an annoyed reply to the interruption. Puller, apparently mellowed, took no offense.

    During the seizure of Seoul, Puller was in his customary position up front. He saw Lt. Lew Devine’s unit make short work of a barricade. Puller put his arm around the platoon leader, who was wearing an NCO’s jacket, and congratulated him. “Great work, Sergeant”. Puller’s driver recognized the lieutenant and pointed out the mistake. Puller was chagrined; he spat, said only “Lieutenant?” and walked off. Devine, a mustang, was not upset, as he knew Puller preferred Sergeants to Second Lieutenants.

    Later, a Captain wanted to obtain a battlefield commission for one of his men because the NCO was “better than a sergeant”. Puller replied, “Captain, there’s nothing better than a sergeant”.

    While fighting the rear guard action from Chosen Reservoir, Puller’s unit was reinforced by the 2nd Battalion, 31st Infantry. When the Battalion Commander asked about his line of retreat, Puller called his artillery officer and told him to fire on the solders if they abandoned their position. He then turned to the lieutenant colonel and said, “Does that answer your question? There will be no withdrawal”.

    During the Chinese spring offensive in 1951, Puller contacted the HQ of the disintegrating Republic of Korea outfit on the left flank of the division, seeking to determine the strength of the attacking enemy. A Korean answered, “Oh, many, many, many!”. Puller spoke to another Korean officer and got the same answer. Finally, he got through to a young Marine officer acting as a liaison to the ROK unit. The lieutenant blurted out, “A whole damn pot full, Sir”. Puller was finally satisfied. “Well, I’m glad someone up there can count”.
    Last edited by USMCWayne; 01-31-2004 at 23:12.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Washington DC
    Awesome job- had to chime in on this one because "Chesty" Puller is one of my favorite figures in military history. I think the headsculpt you did looks great- I was always hoping one of the companies would make a decent sculpt of him so I could try my hand at a bash...

    My personal favorite anecdote on Puller was the first time he saw a flamethrower- I believe his response was something to the effect of "where the hell do you put the bayonet?"


  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Hey Wayne... you could always use that sculpt you did for a bash of the character from the movie "The English Patient"... (post plane crash)

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    New hampshire
    wayne awesome job with the figure, love the history that goes along with it,

    now in regards to your sculpt, mike has a good idea but remember that movie MASK ( i think) with Cher ? I think this fits

    Be polite, Be professional, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet !

  7. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Great figure Wayne, recently read a book about Puller so good do see someone bash him.

    Someone certainly bashed the poor guy in the the last pic Least you gave it a go.

  8. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Great history lesson, Wayne.. I always knew Chesty was the Marines' Marine, but know I know....the rest of the story!

  9. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Teegeeack as servant of Xenu
    Looks good Wayne but I sure wish someone (big company) would do a Chesty. He is as colorfull as Patton (related too) and someone every Marine knows.
    Semper Fi Chesty where ever you are...............
    USMC CHET OSW Co-Founder
    John P. Hermesmeyer
    92-96 5th Marines 0311
    Semper Fi
    Ryan Bonaminio "Eagle MP" Gone but not forgotten

  10. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    South Florida
    ...or should I have used this piece of art?
    Wayne, I apologize for laughing so hard at your rendition of Chesty....

    But your final rendition nailed it! By the way, is that "Mac" or "Lou"? I don't have the Mac figure yet but it does look like Lou in the pics.

    Great job on a much requested figure.
    "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
    John 16:33

  11. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Saratoga, California, USA
    Cool figure!

  12. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Knoxville, TN
    Hey Wayne,
    USMCRon did a beautiful Chesty sculpt really good stuff.
    I'm Brett, and I approve this message.

  13. #11
    USMCWayne's Avatar
    USMCWayne is offline In the bush..........Nam baby!
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Maybe it is Lou. It's the DML MP, whoever that was. There's so many names to remember these days, you need a scorecard to keep track.

    Yes, USMCRon did do a great Puller rendition. He has more talent than me. I thought he was going to appear in upcoming Beach Red episodes?

    FlyAndFight, if you "liked" this one, maybe I'll post my first effort. For that one, I left the scupt on the body when I baked it. I didn't want to overwhelm the board with my failures, but he's worse than the one I posted...if that's possible.

  14. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Apparently, some alternate universe
    Hey Wayne,

    I think you're right about the headsculpt bearing a more than passing resemblence to Puller. As for your sculpt, my personal opinion is you are on the right track, and you should re-prime it and work on it some more. You definitely have the basic features. As for "failure", I don't think so, and you are making the effort, which is the biggest step. Outstanding work.

    You are
    What you do
    When it counts---The Masao
    - Ryan Bonaminio lived his life this way -

  15. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Good work & nice writeup, Wayne (as usual heh heh)
    Your own personal sculptwork still looks better than what I would've resulted with had I ever gone down that route.

  16. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    West Covina, Ca USA
    Good night Chesty, where ever you are!!!!
    Some days you eat the bear. Some days the bear eats you. Some days you both walk away!

  17. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Another fresh-faced kid entered the Virginia Military Institute in 1917. In August 1918, he dropped out and enlisted in the Marine Corps, hoping to join the fighting in Europe during the World War. He never saw combat. Instead he was appointed a Marine Reserve lieutenant, only to be placed on the inactive list 10 days later due to post-war drawdowns. Determined to be a Marine, he rejoined the Corps as an enlisted man, hoping this time to take part in the fighting in Haiti.

    Born June 26, 1898, in West Point, Va., the young man grew up hunting and listening to tales of the Civil War told by his relatives. He also had a heavy appetite for reading, pouring through count-less books of military tales and history.

    Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller would go on to earn five Navy Crosses, the nation’s second highest award for valor, and spend 37 years in the Corps, retiring at the rank of lieutenant general.

    Jungle Combat

    Puller’s service in Haiti allowed him to cut his "battle teeth," leading patrols and engaging the Caco rebels in more than 40 engagements. He witnessed Haitian discipline during drill and patrols, observations which no doubt influenced his own distinct style of leadership.

    After Haiti, Puller was again commissioned a second lieutenant. In 1930, he and his Marines found new action patrolling the jungles of Nicaragua with Guardia Nacional troops against rebels led by Augusto Cesar Sandino. His actions there earned him his first Navy Cross.

    Puller’s growing reputation gained him a seat at the Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga. During one of his classes, which was peppered with future notable Army and Marine Corps generals, Puller engaged in a heated discussion on volumes of fire with the instructor. One of his most famous quotes came from that discussion, culminating with Puller yelling, "You can’t hurt ‘em if you can’t hit ‘em."

    In July of 1932, Puller returned to Nicaragua, where the newspapers heralded his arrival with the headline: "Marines Bring Back the Tiger of Segovia to Fight Sandino." Sandino welcomed the news by putting a bounty of 5,000 pesos on Puller’s head. Puller earned his second Navy Cross during this tour in Nicaragua and was known thereafter as the "Tiger of the Mountains."

    To say that "Chesty" was already a Marine Corps legend might be too strong. Certainly, he was very well known. A San Francisco newspaper dated Feb. 11, 1933, was headlined Most Decorated Marine Will Go to Shanghai."

    In early 1933, Puller joined the China Marines at the American Legation in Peiping. He served mainly as the commander of the "Horse Marines," a unit of 50 men who rode magnificent Manchurian ponies on patrol and parade duties. While there, he had the opportunity to observe the Japanese infantry in training and to learn the sport of polo.

    After several more tours, including sea duty, he was reassigned to China as commander of the 4th Marine Regiment until August 1942.

    Another War

    Returning to battle in October 1942, Puller, now a lieutenant colonel, commanded 1st Battalion, 7th Marines during the battle for Guadalcanal. Nearly 1,400 Japanese were killed and 17 truckloads of equipment taken while Puller’s battalion defended a mile-long front against an estimated 3,000 attackers. Puller was awarded his third Navy Cross.

    During the fighting, Puller could often be seen at the front leading his Marines. He often disregarded enemy fire while others chose to duck and cover. At one point, a grenade landed within eight feet of Puller. While others hit the ground, Puller is alleged to have said, "Oh, that. It’s a dud."

    Shortly after the battle for the ‘Canal,’ Puller became the executive officer of the 7th Marine Regiment. In January 1944, on the island of New Britian, he took command of two battalions whose commanding officers had been taken out of the fight, reorganized them while under heavy machine-gun and mortar fire, and led the Marines in an attack against the enemy’s heavily fortified position. These actions earned Puller a fourth Navy Cross.

    As commander of the 1st Marine Regiment, he led his Marines in one of the bloodiest battles of the war on Peleliu during September and October 1944. King Ross remembers Puller vividly.

    "I was a radio operator on Peleliu with the 3rd Battalion. During the battle, we’d captured a Japanese machine gun. He walked up to us and asked ‘What the hell is that?’ We told him, and he asked us if we could get him one," recalled the 71-year-old Ross. "Two days later we got him his machine gun.

    "We had all heard that he had issued an order that all officers would eat after the enlisted. We got the idea that he never forgot that he was a sergeant. That’s why we all would have gone to hell with him if he’d asked us," said Ross, "and we just about did!"

    In the battle for Peleliu, Puller’s regiment sustained a 56 percent casualty rate while going up against the toughest section of the island, a series of hills, caves, and jungle known as "Bloody Nose." Puller’s battered and bloodied 1st Marines had to be removed from the fight and replaced by the 7th Marines.

    In his speech notes from 1978, retired Brig. Gen. Edwin Simmons, director emeritus, Marine Corps Historical Division, described seeing ‘Chesty’ for the first time when Puller came to talk to officers candidates at Quantico, Va., in 1942.

    "This was the man we were going to hear speak ... not very tall, he stood with a kind of stiffness with his chest thrown out, hence his nickname ‘Chesty.’ His face was yellow-brown from the sun and atabrine, the anti-malaria drug that was used then. His face looked, as someone has said, as though it were carved out of teakwood. There was a lantern jaw, a mouth like the proverbial steel trap, and small, piercing eyes that drilled right through you and never seemed to blink."

    Puller was then 44 years old. The four-time Navy Cross recipient would not see combat again during World War II; instead, he was assigned back to the United States in November 1944.

    He was sent to Camp Pendleton, Calif., in August 1950 to take command of his old unit, the 1st Marines, which was gearing up for Korea.

    Cold Hell

    Puller landed with the 1st Marines at Inchon, Korea, in September 1950. Aboard his landing craft was Lt. Carl L. Sitter, who would earn the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, for his actions during Nov. 29-30, 1950, at Hagaruri.

    "I was on his landing craft that day. I’d been given responsibility for the headquarters section and later acted as liaison with the 5th Marine Regiment. Sometime after we were at Tent Camp 2, I had to go to his tent to talk to him. When I went inside, it was dark, and it took my eyes awhile to adjust. When they did, I noticed him sitting on the ground snapping in with his pistol; he was pointing it right at me.

    "He was ramrod straight with a stubby pipe in his mouth all the time. He was approachable. He’d often say ‘Hello son, how are you doing?’ when he came across a Marine."

    While "attacking in a different direction" at the Frozen Chosin Reservoir Dec. 5-10, 1950, Puller earned his fifth and final Navy Cross. Ten Chinese Divisions had been sent to annihilate them, but the Marines smashed seven of the divisions during their retrograde to the sea. Facing attack from all sides, including two massive enemy attacks on the rear guard, Puller’s direct leadership ensured all casualties were evacuated, all salvageable equipment was brought out, and ensured there was enough time for the column to reach its destination.

    In addition to the Navy Cross for his actions during the breakout, he was awarded the Army’s equivalent — the Distinguished Service Cross. In January 1951, Puller was promoted to brigadier general and appointed as assistant commander of the 1st Marine Division.

    Promoted to major general in September 1953, Puller assumed command of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune in July 1954. It was here he suffered what was originally described as a mild stroke. After many examinations, Puller was declared fit for duty by his military doctors aboard the base.

    But Puller’s state of health remained a controversial subject and led to his forced retirement. Thwarting tradition, he had a sergeant major who had worked for him in more glorious days, pin on his third star before he retired Nov. 1, 1955.

    His 14 personal decorations, excluding those from foreign governments, certainly are part of Puller’s enduring lore, but perhaps the stories of his leadership, courage, honor, and fighting ability are his most important legacy. They serve as reminders and inspiration to generations of Marines that leading by example is the most important trait we can possess.

    Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller died Oct. 11, 1971, at the age of 73.

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Chesty Puller, U.S. Marine