Lewis Puller, nicknamed “Chesty” because of his perfect posture and the fact that his torso somewhat resembled a full-size beer keg full of lead bricks, raw muscle and horse steroids, was a hard-as-shit motherfucker who is almost universally-recognized as the most badass dude to ever wear the uniform of the United States Marine Corps. Not bad, considering that being revered as the pinnacle of toughness by the USMC is kind of like being King of the Vikings or the toughest Klingon to ever set foot on the planet Kronos. In his thirty-seven years of service to the Corps, Puller would rise through the ranks from Private to General, kick more asses than Juan Valdez on an insane bender, and become the most decorated Marine in American history.
Born in the small town of West Point, Virginia, Puller grew up hunting, fishing, armwrestling black bears and reading about military history. He enrolled in the prestigious Virginia Military Academy in 1917, but dropped out after a year to enlist in the Marines, mostly because he didn’t want to fuck around reading books about kicking sack when he could be out there booting it himself. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserves, but was placed on the inactive list ten days after his enlistment (WWI was winding down, and the government was scaling the military back). Since nothing was going to stand between Chesty Puller and his mad desire to shoot motherfuckers in the eye, Puller re-enlisted in the Corps, this time going in as a lowly Private. After thirteen weeks of running eighty miles a day, climbing sheer cliff faces with his bare hands, and crawling under barbed wire while pissed-off Drill Instructors whacked him over the head with rusty medieval polearms and belted forth a constant stream of compound profanities vile enough to make the baby Jesus cry, Puller was shipped out to kick asses in Haiti.
Puller's mission was to maintain order in Haiti by killing endless hordes of Caco Rebels bent on the violent overthrow of the U.S.-sponsored Haitian government. Over the course of five years, Chesty fought in over forty engagements against these rebels, where he gained valuable experience in small-unit tactics, jungle warfare, and ripping his enemies’ hearts out through their ribcages with his bare hands. His toughness and badassitude earned him rapid promotions, and by the time he was shipped out to Nicaragua in 1930 he was already a commissioned Lieutenant. Er... again.
Lieutenant Puller first established himself as a Marine’s Marine (i.e. a total badass) while punching rebels in the kidneys in the dense Nicaraguan jungles. In one of his first missions of the campaign, Puller led his platoon up against a much larger force of heavily-armed rebel scum, charging the fortified enemy positions without even flinching. Over the course of one week, Puller’s men routed the enemy in five separate engagements, completely annihilating the rebel positions while sustaining minimal casualties. For his bravery in combat, Puller won the Navy Cross – the Marine Corps’ second-highest award for bravery (just below the Medal of Honor, and some say he got jobbed out of the MoH because he refused to play any bullshit political games). Another time he was leading his unit through a treacherous mountain pass when all of a sudden these rebel jackasses ambushed him from all sides with machine guns, mortars and crazy dirtbikes with guns mounted on the sides. Four of Puller's men went down under the initial attack, but he got his boys to cover, directed their fire, and then led a flanking maneuver that resulted in the complete destruction of the ambushing forces. Then, on the march home, he was ambushed twice more – both times resulted in the epic asskickings of everyone who fucked with him. For getting his platoon home safely with minimal loss of life, Puller received a second Navy Cross. By the time that he left Nicaragua, Chesty was known as “The Tiger of the Mountains”, a nickname he earned presumably by clawing the eyes out of a traitorous rebel, and was so despised by his enemies that the leaders of the rebel guerrillas had put a 5,000 peso reward on his head. You know you're doing a good job of whomping faces when your enemy is willing to hire bounty hunters and mercenaries to take your shit down like Han Solo.
Puller bounced around for a while after Nicaragua, serving at several different posts both on land and at sea, including a stint as the commander of the elite “Horse Marines” unit in Peiping, China in 1933, where he rode around on horseback all day and practiced the age-old tactic where riot cops leap off their horses and take motherfuckers down. He continued to impress his superiors with his tenacity and his take-no-bullshit attitude, and when motherfuckers needed their faces smashed in World War II, it was Lieutenant-Colonel Chesty Puller who was once again holding the giant fucking sledgehammer.
"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right,
they're in front of us, they're behind us.
They can't get away this time."
As the commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Puller’s men were tasked with making an amphibious assault near the Matanikau River on the sunny Pacific resort island of Guadalcanal and staking out a critical strategic Margarita stand. Two companies of the 1/7 hit the beaches, and almost immediately ran into a force of Japanese regular infantry much larger and more well-prepared than anything the Marines were expecting to face there. The invasion force was cut-off and surrounded by an enemy counter attack, and Puller quickly realized that he had to get his boys out of there before they were cut to pieces. Another group of Marines tried to break through the Japanese flank and reach the stranded men, but the enemy resistance was too strong and they were too well-fortified to be displaced. The commander of the operation told Puller that it was hopeless, and that those Marines were lost. Well Chesty Fucking Puller never resigned defeat for any reason. He slammed his fist down on the table and immediately stormed out of camp toward the beach, where he flagged down a U.S. Destroyer that happened to be sailing off the coast. Despite having absolutely no authority to do so, Puller boarded the vessel and immediately began organizing a second amphibious assault aimed at breaking through the Japanese lines. From the deck of the ship he directed the Destroyer to fire everything they had at the enemy fortifications. The shelling, coupled with the second landing, punched through the enemy blockade and cleared a path for the stranded Marines to escape. One week after this defeat, Puller and his men would return to the mouth of the Matanikau River and obliterate all Japanese opposition in the sector, probably with their bare hands.
During that same campaign, Puller would once again prove his brass-ballsitude by going above and beyond the call of duty in the name of kicking every ass he could find. On the night of 24 October 1942, 700 men of the 1/7 were positioned in a thin, mile-long line, defending an American airfield that was critical for the success of the Guadalcanal operation. They suddenly came under an intense onslaught from the seasoned men of the Japanese 17th Army, who came charging full-speed at the U.S. positions. For over three hours in the middle of the night, Chesty Puller ran up and down the U.S. lines directing his men and giving orders to his company commanders. When the smoke cleared the next morning, the hard-fighting men of the 1st Marines had killed 1,400 of the enemy and captured seventeen trucks loaded with weapons and PlayStations while sustaining fewer than 70 casualties. Before he would leave Guadalcanal, Puller would be shot twice by snipers and hit once with shrapnel from an exploding mortar round, but none of that bullshit would slow him down because he had well over 200 hit points thanks to his 18 Constitution score and the fact that he was a Level 15 Marine Commander. Shit, fucking Admiral Yamamoto himself could have swooped in on a giant fucking red dragon that breathed fire right in Puller's fucking face and Chesty would have just casually dusted himself off, broken the dragon's neck, and hurled the Admiral into an active volcano.
Puller continued to fight in the Pacific Campaign, once again earning distinction at the Battle of New Britain Island. This time, three separate Marine battalions had been hit hard by enemy fire and lost their commanding officers, so Puller himself ran up and down the American lines, re-organizing the men under heavy machine gun and mortar fire, and eventually leading an assault that would break the enemy lines – an action that would earn him his third Navy Cross. Later in 1944, Puller led the 1st Marine Regiment in the Battle of Peleliu, an engagement that was one of the bloodiest battles in the history of the Corps.
After WWII, Puller returned stateside for a while. He taught strategy and tactics at various military institutions until one day he heard that some godless Commie bastards were fucking with Democracy over in Korea. Puller cracked his knuckles, loaded up his Colt 1911, and landed at the head of the 1st Marines at Inchon in September of 1950. At the Battle of Choisin Reservoir, Puller and his men found themselves holed up in the town of Koto-ri, completely surrounded by ten full Divisions of Chinese Infantry hell-bent on killing every American they could find and then re-animating the dead bodies to fight as their undead army of the night. Heavily outnumbered, and fighting in ball-freezing sub-zero temperatures, Puller’s troops broke the enemy lines, smashed through seven enemy divisions, and then stayed behind as a rear guard, bearing the brunt of the Chinese onslaught so that the rest of the Marines could complete their retreat (Puller refused to refer to it as a retreat, however, he preferred to call it, "attacking in a different direction"). The 1st Marines withstood fierce attacks by hordes of Communist soldiers but held their position, inflicted tremendous numbers of casualties on the enemy and managed to provide enough time for the Allies to evacuate all of their wounded men and salvageable equipment. Sheer bravery in the face of intense fire and a seemingly winless situation earned Chesty Puller his fifth Navy Cross – an unprecedented accomplishment that has never been equaled.
As it should be for any good badass military commander, Chesty Puller was admired by his men and feared by his enemies. He always led from the front, fighting in the trenches with the men, and never flinched under even the most serious fire. One time a grenade landed next to him, and when the rest of the guys around him dove for cover he glanced at it and nonchalantly said, “Oh, that. It’s a dud.” He inspired loyalty and courage in his Marines, treated his men well, insisted on the best equipment and discipline for his troops, and had a no fear, win-at-all-costs attitude that won him fourteen medals for combat bravery in addition to countless unit citations and campaign ribbons. He is the most highly-decorated Marine in history, and a legendary figure amongst his brethren. To this day, Marines at Parris Island end their day by saying, "Good night Chesty Puller, wherever you are!"
- Chesty Puller, on first seeing a flamethrower
"Where the Hell do you put the bayonet?"
The Top U.S. Marine
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