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”.