While researching the Battle of Cape Gloucester, I came across this photo of the 7th Marine Regiment’s commanders in January 1944. Granted, any group of officers that includes Chesty Puller (second from the left) has an epic advantage over the enemy, but when you consider these officers’ service records, it really shows how stacked this unit was, and perhaps why the 7th Marines were called the “fightingest outfit in the world.”
One Marine officer enlisted during World War I and served as a drill instructor (Frisbie)… two fought in Nicaragua (Puller and Frisbie)… Frisbie also faced rebels in the Dominican Republic… Puller saw action in Hayti… Two were China Marines (Conoley and Puller)… Two would later serve in Korea (Puller and Buse), and Buse also served during Vietnam… Continue reading “The ‘Fightingest’ Skippers of the 7th Marines”
If you had to sit down with a pencil and paper and come up with who you think is the best soldier in American history, who would you choose?
Before we ask who we would choose, we better think of HOW we would choose, because to call this a hard question would be an epic understatement. How would we even pick what elements factor in? To make things easier, perhaps we could name some of our most famous fighting men and work backwards to the question. General George S. Patton and Gen. “Chesty” Puller probably come to mind for most history buffs; both were legendary leaders and tremendous force multipliers. If there was no Patton leading tanks across Europe or Puller commanding Marines in the Pacific, you could safely make the case that World War II would have been longer and more costly.
But narrowing our hypothetical question down to famous officers is too narrow of a scope. Besides, if you invented a program that mass-produced officers on par with Patton and Puller, but didn’t have spectacular privates and non-commissioned officers to command, that force would be combat ineffective. So what about enlisted soldiers like Audie Murphy, who is perhaps the most-decorated soldier in our history? We have to be careful when considering medals, because the military awards process is flawed and highly subjective; for example, the chain of command can lose paperwork (perhaps intentionally); acts can go unwitnessed, such as if the whole unit is wiped out; the war might be unpopular; the secretive nature of special operations forces or combat taking place in sensitive areas; or any of a number of other factors. Plus sometimes well-connected people, like Naval officer (and U.S. Congressman) Lyndon B. Johnson, are awarded medals that they didn’t earn.
Though the system has its flaws, at least medals are a decent indicator of valor, and that is why we publish citations for valor on this site.
Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. Frank R. Zaehringer III, who gave his life for our country on this day in 2010. The 23-year-old native of Reno, Nev. was killed while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Zaerhringer had previously served in Iraq and was assigned to 2d Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
1910: Wright Brothers pilot Archibald Hoxsey crosses paths with President Theodore Roosevelt while at St. Louis during a cross-country flying exhibition and invites him for a ride. Roosevelt initially refuses, but his adventuresome spirit gets the best of him and he changes his mind. Roosevelt straps in and becomes the first president to fly.
1939: A letter written by Hungarian-born physicist Leo Szilard, and signed by Albert Einstein, reaches President Franklin D. Roosevelt, warning that the Germans could develop an atomic weapon and that the United States should begin their own nuclear research. Roosevelt quickly authorizes a committee on uranium, setting in motion what will eventually become the Manhattan Project.
1942: U.S. Naval forces under the command of Rear Admiral Norman Scott intercept a Japanese fleet, commanded by Rear Adm. Aritomo Gotō, attempting to reinforce troops on Guadalcanal in the Battle of Cape Esperance. Fighting begins shortly before midnight off the northwest coast of the island when the Japanese are caught by surprise. The heavy cruiser Furutaka and destroyer Fubuki are sunk during the gun battle, and Adm. Gotō is mortally wounded. Planes from Henderson Field strike the retreating Japanese fleet the next morning and sink two additional Japanese destroyers the following day. Japanese sailors who jumped overboard refuse to be rescued by American ships, instead condemning themselves to a horrifying death in the shark-infested waters.
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to
LEWIS B. “CHESTY” PULLER, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Third Gold Star in lieu of a Fourth Award of the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Colonel Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller (MCSN: 0-3158), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service while serving as Executive Officer of the Seventh Marines (Reinforced), FIRST Marine Division, serving with the SIXTH United States Army, in combat against enemy Japanese forces at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, from 26 December 1943 to 19 January 1944. Continue reading “Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller FOURTH Navy Cross citation”