Chesty Puller is probably the most famous US Marine. Marines are taught in boot camp to say, before hitting the rack for the night,
“Good Night, Chesty Puller — wherever you are.
Who was Chesty Puller? He was LtGen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, USMC. If you don’t mind salty language, read this excellent and hilarious bio.
Called “Chesty” because of his Marine’s bearing and barrel-like torso, Puller was a Marine’s Marine throughout his long career.
After starting out his career as an officer candidate, Chesty hungered for action and enlisted as a Private at the end of World War I, rising to the rank of Lieutenant General in Korea. He showed 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 dandies. During his four wars, he became the only Marine to be awarded the Navy Cross five times.
“We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem of getting to these people and killing them.” — Chesty Puller
From the bio:
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.
By World War II, Chesty was an officer again. He commanded 1st Battalion, 7th Marines on Guadalcanal. In a typical Chesty maneuver:
[Chesty] 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.
Good Night, Chesty — Wherever You Are