U.S. Marine Corps Detachment Fort Lee -- FORT LEE, Va. –Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller is a Marine Corps legend as well as the most decorated Marine in the Corp’s 240 year history. As a tribute to the many accomplishments Puller made to Corps and country, the U.S. Marine Corps Detachment Fort Lee, embarked on its 22nd annual Chesty Puller run Oct. 30.
The detachment completed the 66 mile journey by relay, and finished the last four miles in a formation run with more than 250 Marines through the town of Saluda, Va., to his grave site at Christ Church cemetery.
“We are here today to pay tribute to Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller and his leadership, tenacity and unbending commitment to Marines,” said Lt. Col. Thomas H. Gilley IV, detachment commanding officer, to the gathered Marines. “As a band of brothers we will reflect on the legacy of Chesty Puller and pay proper tribute to him.”
Puller was born in West Point, Va. on June 26, 1898 and joined the Marine Corps in 1918. He served in World War I, the Banana Wars, World War II and Korea until 1955 when he retired at the rank of lieutenant general.
While at the cemetery, Marines took turns reading excerpts from his biography, highlighting his many accomplishments. Puller earned five Navy Cross medals during his career and the citations were discussed to emphasize his leadership abilities.
At the end of the readings, Gilley and Master Gunnery Sgt. Tony C. Smith, Marine Corps Food Service School staff noncommissioned officer in charge, placed wreaths at Puller and his wife Virginia’s grave markers as a salute to their service. They also offered up a toast in his honor. Puller died October 11, 1971 at the age of 73 after a long illness.
Along with earning five Navy Crosses, some of his other awards and decorations include; Army Distinguished Service Cross (equivalent to the Navy Cross); Silver Star Medal; Legion of Merit with combat “V” (2nd award); Bronze Star with combat “V”; Purple Heart; Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (2nd award); World War I Victory Medal; Haitian Campaign Medal; Nicaraguan Campaign Medal; China Service Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal and Korean Service Medal.
Lt. Col. Thomas H. Gilley IV, U.S. Marine Corps Detachment Fort Lee commanding officer, and Master Gunnery Sgt. Tony C. Smith, Marine Corps Food Service School staff noncommissioned officer in charge, lead a formation of more than 250 Marines through the town of Saluda, Va., Oct. 30 for the 22nd annual Chesty Run. Each year the detachment runs 66 miles from Fort Lee to Saluda to honor Marine Corps legend Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller at his final resting place at Christ Church cemetery. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by SSgt. Edgar Villafanetarrats)
Lt. Col. Thomas H. Gilley IV, U.S. Marine Corps Detachment Fort Lee commanding officer, talks to detachment Marines about Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller at his grave site in Saluda, Va., Oct. 30. For the past 22 years, the detachment has embarked on a 66 mile run to honor the legacy of the Corps’ most decorated Marine.