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Veterans Day: Saluting 'Chesty' Puller, most-decorated Marine

November 12, 2012|By Richard Simon
  • An eight-foot-tall bronze statue in Quantico, Va., depicts Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, the most-decorated Marine in U.S. history.
An eight-foot-tall bronze statue in Quantico, Va., depicts Lt. Gen. Lewis…

WASHINGTON -- The Washington area is full of statues honoring military heroes, many of whom have been long forgotten. But the latest statue, dedicated Monday, salutes a man well known to Marines: Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, the most-decorated Marine in U.S. history.

A statue of the recipient of five Navy crosses was dedicated at Semper Fidelis Memorial Park adjacent to the National Museum of the Marine Corps near Quantico, Va. The three-star general died in 1971 at age 73.

The eight-foot-tall bronze statue depicts the barrel-chested Puller with his arm extended, pointing toward the museum.  

PHOTOS: Honoring our veterans

Puller is such a legend in the Marine Corps that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently quoted the "great Marine leader’’ in a speech at Quantico.

Noting that that the general was asked about pre-World War II Marines known as the “Old Breed,” Panetta said Puller responded:  “Old Breed, New Breed,  there’s not a damn bit of difference so long as it’s the Marine Breed.” 

Puller spent 37 years in the Marines --  chasing bandits in Nicaragua, fighting at Guadalcanal during World War II, leading the First Marines at the Inchon landing and in the battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. He requested reactivation for service in Vietnam at age 67 but was turned down.

The statue, created by Pennsylvania sculptor Terry Jones, himself a former Marine, was donated to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation by the Marine Corps League.

Puller was a native of Virginia and a great admirer of another indefatigable Southern general, albeit one who fought for the Confederacy.

“His hero was Stonewall Jackson,” Jones said. “He would carry a Bible and a biography of Stonewall Jackson.”

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