Every Marine hears about “Chesty” Puller in boot camp. They hear stories about the most highly decorated Marine in its more than 230-year history.
However, few Marines get to pay tribute to this historical figure. That is, except for more than 150 Marines from the Fort Lee Marine Corps Detachment.
The detachment held the 15th Annual “Chesty” Puller run Friday in remembrance of Lt. Gen. Lewis Puller, nicknamed “Chesty” for his upper body physique.
The 69-mile relay run started at Fort Lee, and two-man teams ran two to three mile intervals to Saluda. Approximately four miles from Puller’s gravesite, the detachment gathered in mass formation to run the remaining distance to Christ Church, Puller’s final resting place, as a group.
Lt. Col. Joe Monroe, detachment commander, ran his first “Chesty” Puller run. He said the run and the history given during the run helps the Marines realize the importance of Puller and his values.
“We want to recognize the traditions and everything (Puller) gave to the Corps over his 37 years of service,” said Monroe. “Lt. Gen. Puller provided a tremendous example of leadership and courage in combat and courage off the field of combat in his every day life as a Marine and as an individual. It’s important that the Marines see and recognize those traditions and learn from all the examples he gave us.”
One student from the detachment was excited to pay the tribute to Puller.
“I usually don’t like running, but I’m really motivated to come out here,” said Pfc. Siehara Sorrell, a food service student. “You get to feel everyone’s spirit and everyone’s pumped up to run. We all love the Corps and we like tradition. Keeping the tradition alive is motivating.”
First Sgt. Robert Bailey, detachment first sergeant, said the run was a good opportunity to pay tribute to a hero.
“This run is to pay tribute to one of the true warriors of the Marine Corps history,” said Bailey. “This run signifies everything that Lt. Gen. Puller stood for: the warrior mindset, the brotherhood. He believed in his enlisted personnel; he believed in his officers, believed in the family, the tightness in the Marine Corps.”
Bailey said this run helps people remember that patriotism has been around, even before the all volunteer force came into existence.
“The things that Lt. Gen. Puller did for this country, he volunteered for it,” he said. “He volunteered for extended services; did five years in Haiti. He volunteered for longer durations in Korea. It shows the type of mentality he had and how much love he had for this nation.
“It’s a true hallmark of what is going on in the world,” he continued. “It’s good to show and let people realize that the history has always been there; that love of country has always been there.”