West Point in King William County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller
“West Point’s Own” “A Marine’s Marine”
1898-1917 General Puller grew up here in West Point, attending the local West Point High School. After graduating, he enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute only to drop out a year later.
1918 He then joined the Marines as an enlisted man to fight in World War I. He was sent to Haiti but the war ended before he could make it to France.
1919-1928 He was promoted to Second Lt. of the Marine reserves in June of 1919. Less than a month after he was promoted, he was made inactive due to a reduction in force. He reenlisted later that year to serve with the Gendarmerie d’Haiti, participating in over 40 battles during the next 5 years.
1924-1928 Again he was promoted to Second Lt. and was stationed at several US bases in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and California.
1928-1931 In late 1928 he was sent to Nicaragua with the National Guard detachment where he earned his first of 5 Navy Crosses (Tied for most Navy Crosses received
1931-1932 In late 1928 he was sent to Nicaragua with the National Guard detachment where he earned his first of 5 Navy Crosses (Tied for most Navy Crosses received on record.)
1931-1932 He returned to the US to complete officer training in 1931 and when he finished in 1932 immediately returned to Nicaragua where he earned his second Navy Cross.
1933-1936 General Puller served in China commanding the famed “Horse Marines” and completed a sea duty tour on the USS Augusta of the Asiatic Fleet.
1936-1939 He served as an instructor at the Basic School in Philadelphia.
1939-1940 He returned to sea duty as Commander of the Augusta’s Marine Detachment.
1940-1941 After a year long stint with the 4th Marine Regiment at Shanghi, China, he returned to the US in August of 1941 and was given command of the 1st Battalion of the 7th Marines.
1941-1942 These 7th Marines formed the base of the newly created 3rd Brigade who defended Samoa in May of 1942. His troops were then re-stationed to Guadalcanal where his quick thinking saved 3 companies from being completely destroyed. These 3 companies were cut off and surrounded by seasoned Japanese forces, so he quickly ran to shore and waved in cover fire from a Navy destroyer. This cover fire was just enough for a landing craft to maneuver to shore
1942-1944 Following this valiant effort, he was promoted to executive officer of the whole 7th Marine Regiment. While serving in this position he earned his 4th Navy Cross for his extraordinary leadership abilities. Over the span of less than a month, he was forced to take command of 3 different battalions in his regiment because 2 battalion commanders were wounded. He reorganized these units and successfully led them against heavily fortified Japanese positions. Along with earning his 4th Navy Cross, he was immediately promoted to Colonel, and after just a month, was named commander of the 1st Marine Regiment.
1944-1946 Just 6 months after his promotion, he was named executive officer of the Infantry Training Regiment in Camp Lejeune and was promoted to Commanding officer after only weeks.
1946-1950 When the war had finally ended, he was named director of a reserve regiment in New Orleans and he later commanded the Marine Barracks at Pearl Harbor.
1950-1952 When the Korean War began, he was immediately reassigned as commander of the 1st Marine Division. This 1st Marine Division landed in Inchon, and after just 2 months Puller had earned his 5th Navy Cross during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Puller made his most famous quote during this battle “We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies things.” After the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, Puller was promoted to Brigadier General and was Assistant Division Commander of the 1st Marine Division. Soon after that, Puller was promoted to command the whole 1st Division. He led the 1st Division to the completion of many objectives, but after less than a year, he was demoted to his old job and then quickly returned to the U.S.
1952-1955 After his return he was promoted to Major and Lieutenant General serving in several command positions. General Puller retired due to medical reasons.
1966 Even after General Puller had retired he attempted to return to active duty to serve in the Vietnam War, but was denied due to his age.
1971 Lewis Burwell Puller died in Saluda, Virginia on October 11, 1971 at the age of 73. He is buried in Christchurch Parish Cemetery.
Famous “Chesty” Quotes
“All right, they’re on our left, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…they can’t get away this time.”
“Great. Now we can shoot at those bastards from every direction.”
“We’re surrounded… that simplifies our problem of getting to those people and killing them.”
“Remember, you are the 1st Marines! Not all the Communists in Hell can overrun you!”
“Take me to the Brig. I want to see the real Marines.”
“Alright you bastards, try and shoot me!” (to Korean forces)
“Where do you put the bayonet?” (Upon seeing a flamethrower for the first time)
“You don’t hurt ‘em if you don’t hit ‘em.”
“Hit hard, hit fast, hit often.”
“Retreat! Hell, we’re just advancing in a different direction.”
US Military Decorations
Navy Cross with four Gold Stars
Distinguished Service Cross
Legion of Merit with one Gold Award star and Valor Device
Air Medal with two Gold Stars
Presidential Unit Citation with four Bronze Stars
Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Star
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal with one Bronze Star
World War I Vicotry Medal with one Bronze Star
Haitian Campaign Medal
Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal
China Service Medal
American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean War Service Medal with one Silver Star in lieu of five Bronze Stars
Haitian Medaille Militaire
Nicaraguan Presidential Medal of Merit with Dipolma
Nicaraguan Cross of Valor with Diploma
Republic of Korea Ulchi Medal with Gold Star
Chinese Order of the Cloud and Banner
Korea Presidential Unit Citation with Bronze Star
United Nations Service Medal, Korea
Location. 37° 31.632′ N, 76° 47.638′ W. Marker is in West Point, Virginia, in King William County. Marker is at the intersection of 1st Street and Main Street, on the right when traveling east on 1st Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: West Point VA 23181, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller (approx. 0.7 miles away); Home of Signer (approx. ¾ mile away); King William County / King and Queen County (approx. 0.8 miles away); Indians Poisoned At Peace Meeting (approx. 0.8 miles away); Indian Treaty of 1646 (approx. 0.8 miles away); Battle of Eltham’s Landing (approx. 1.7 miles away); Eltham (approx. 2.1 miles away); Peninsular Campaign (approx. 2.1 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in West Point.
More about this marker. On the left is a painting of Lt. Gen. Puller with one of his quips, “We’re surrounded… that simplifies our problem.”
Also see . . . USMC - Who's Who in Marine Corps History. Lieutenant General Lewis "Chesty" B. Puller, USMC. (Submitted on April 2, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. • Patriots & Patriotism • War, Korean • War, World II •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,395 times since then and 9 times this year. Last updated on . Photos: 1, 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. 3. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.