Friday, October 24, 2008

Chesty's Reputation

Thirty-seven years after his death, Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller remains a legend in the United States Marine Corps. He won the Navy Cross five times, an achievement no other Marine has ever matched. I never met General Puller, but I once met a man who knew him, and I'll never forget the experience. Back in 1992, I was going through a rough patch, and to make ends meet, I spent some weekends walking door to door, circulating petitions. I stopped at one house where I noticed that the car in the driveway had a bumpersticker that read, 'US Marine First Division 50th Reunion 1942-1992' I thought, holy cow! The guy who answered the door as a greyhaired old guy. After getting his signature, I asked him, 'Sir, did you ever meet Chesty Puller?'

He said, 'All the time. I worked at Division headquarters.'

I said, in the most respectful, serious way I possibly could, 'Sir, was that guy *half* as tough as they say he was?'

He looked me square in the eye, and said, '*Tougher*'

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