You could hear them coming while they were still tiny specks on the horizon. In unity, singing cadences about a great Marine, you could feel the excitement in the air.
In the small town of Saluda, families left their homes, workers left their businesses and retired Marines found empty driveways to wave their American and Marine Corps flags as they passed.
More than 150 members of the Fort Lee Marine Corps detachment ran the 15th Annual “Chesty” Puller run Nov. 14.
The run is a tribute to a hero of the Marine Corps, Lt. Gen. Lewis Puller, who earned five Navy Crosses in his career and is the most highly decorated Marine to serve. He was nicknamed “Chesty” for his upper body physique.
My husband is also a Marine. When I knew I would be covering the run, and I heard that ‘every Marine is familiar with “Chesty” Puller’ … I went straight to my husband and asked him ‘Do you know who “Chesty” Puller is?’ He explained “Chesty” to me and how every Marine is introduced to this hero and his chest of medals in boot camp.
I researched him for background information, and found a wealth of information covering his 37 years of service. Stories of his character in war and his ability to reach out to his enlisted Marines (as he served as an enlisted Marine for several years) were found in abundance. This is a man who will be remembered for many generations of Marines to come.
I will not soon forget the “Chesty” Puller run. I’ll remember the residents of Saluda waiting on the edge of the street to wave their flags at the formation of Marines running past. I’ll remember the respect and reverence on the Marines’ faces who honored this hero.
I would have regretted missing this event if it had not been assigned to me. Now that I’ve experienced it, I’ll be more inclined in the future to attend Marine Corps ceremonies, Army celebrations and other community gatherings on post, whether in an official capacity or just for the fun of it.
Speaking of such events, all of Fort Lee has been invited to participate in the installation holiday run Dec. 12 (see Page 5). Not being much of a runner, you’ll probably see me out there with my camera, catching Team Lee in action.