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Ultimate Marine (Puller vs Butler)

Who is the Ultimate Marine’s Marine? Each day, we’ll compare two Marine Corps legends across three categories: Service (actions while in uniform), Legacy (how their service continued to impact the Corps and the world) and Motivation (esprit de corps and overall badassery). The Marines Blog will judge initial rounds internally and guest writers will take over for the final rounds. Be sure to make your voice heard by voting in our simultaneous fan bracket here on the Marines Blog. Share your opinion on our Facebook page, or tweet your thoughts with us @usmc using the hashtag: #UltimateMarine

Who is the Ultimate Marine’s Marine? Each day, we’ll compare two Marine Corps legends across three categories: Service (actions while in uniform), Legacy (how their service continued to impact the Corps and the world) and Motivation (esprit de corps and overall badassery). The Marines Blog will judge initial rounds internally and guest writers will take over for the final rounds. Be sure to make your voice heard by voting in our simultaneous fan bracket here on the Marines Blog. Share your opinion on our Facebook page, or tweet your thoughts with us @usmc using the hashtag: #UltimateMarine

ViewBracketHonestly, I wouldn’t bet nicknames like “Old Gimlet Eye,” “The Fighting Quaker,” and  “Old Duckboard” would strike fear in the hearts of the enemy or reverence in the hearts of U.S. Marines.

“Chesty,” on the other hand, does both.

It’s fortunate for Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler then, that this competition isn’t ViewFanBracketabout nicknames, but it’s probably equally annoying for Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Puller that he has to face Butler at this point of the competition for the title of Ultimate Marine’s Marine. It’s incredibly difficult to choose between these two Marine Corps legends since their careers are virtually identical with but a few discrepancies between the two.

When he was just 16, Butler lied about his age to join the Marine Corps against his parents’ wishes. He received a direct commission and saw action in the Philippine-American War, the Boxer Rebellion, the Banana Wars, and World War I during his 33 years of service. Butler attained the rank of major general, which was the highest authorized Marine rank at the time, and is one of only two Marines to twice earn the nation’s highest award for valor in combat – the Medal of Honor. Both medals were earned during the Banana Wars – the first in Veracruz, Mexico, and the second in Haiti. He also earned the Marine Corps Brevet Medal, which, although obsolete, is the equivalent of a Navy Cross – the nation’s second highest award for valor in combat. Butler was the most decorated Marine in history when he died in 1940 at age 58.

Puller left after his first year of school at the Virginia Military Institute to “go where the guns are” during World War I. He saw action in Haiti and Nicaragua, China, World War II, and the Korean War during his 37 years of service. Puller attained the rank of lieutenant general before being forced to retire, and is the only Marine to receive the Navy Cross five times. Additionally, the U.S. Army awarded him their equivalent medal, the Distinguished Service Cross, making Puller the only person to receive the nation’s second highest award for valor six times. Tack on two Legions of Merit, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat ‘V’ device, and a Purple Heart, and you have the most decorated Marine in the Corps’ history.

Service:  TIE

The legacies of these two men are not unknown to anyone who has earned the eagle, globe, and anchor:

TWO MEDALS OF HONOR!?!”

“SIR, TWO MEDALS OF HONOR IS … DAN DALY AND SMEDLEY BUTLER, SIR!!!”

“FIVE NAVY CROSSES!?!”

“SIR, FIVE NAVY CROSSES IS … CHESTY PULLER, SIR!!!”

That’s exactly how it sounds as recruits reply as loudly as possible to the screaming drill instructor running up and down the DI highway during knowledge time at boot camp.

Butler has an entire base named after him at Marine Corps Base Butler on Okinawa, Japan. And while Butler may have written a book during his retirement, Puller has been the subject of numerous books, cadences, t-shirts, and bumper stickers. The official Marine Corps mascot is named Chesty, and Marines often wish Chesty goodnight (wherever he is) and will find themselves giving one more pull-up to Chesty when they simply can’t do one more.

Puller’s mouth has also donated some of the Marine Corps’ most famous quotes, such as:  “We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem of getting to these people and killing them.”

Legacy:  PULLER

Seeing humility in an officer is one of the most motivating things for an enlisted man.  That makes this category a close call too.

Butler tried to return his first Medal of Honor after so many were awarded during the occupation of Veracruz. He felt his award diminished the prestige of the medal and that he had done nothing to deserve it. The medal was returned to him with orders to wear it.

Puller once found a second lieutenant making an enlisted man salute him 100 times for missing a salute. Puller told the lieutenant that he was correct in making the enlisted man salute him, but reminded him that good officers return every salute they receive. Puller ordered the lieutenant to return all 100 salutes to the enlisted man and even kept count for the lieutenant.

Another example of Puller’s humility is when he fined himself $100 for accidentally discharging a pistol inside an armory. He usually charged his men $20 for the same offense.

Motivation:  TIE

This has been one of the closest battles in the entire competition, but we’re giving this one to Chesty. Because, well … Marines always have one more for Chesty.

— — — — — —

Round One

Daly vs Lejeune

Foss vs Hulbert

Diamond vs Gray

Basilone vs Johnson

Puller vs Barnum

Hathcock vs Mawhinney

Vittori vs Glenn

Butler vs Davis

Round Two

Daly vs Foss

Diamond vs Basilone

Puller vs Hathcock

Glenn vs Butler

Final Four

Daly vs Basilone

Puller vs Butler

The Ultimate Marine’s Marine

Daly vs Puller

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rondell.l.henderson Rondell Ladarris Henderson

    THIS COMPETITION SHOULD HAVE HAD COL. RIPLEY ALSO.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kwonkhmind 권기현

    maj. gen. smedley butler is better than lt.gen. lewis “chesty” puller.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.bonus Adam Bonus

    You vote for who is most know to you. Chesty has been that man for me. What an awesome Marine!

  • Michael Tucci

    Puller is probably the most popular, but, in legacy, I can’t believe that they left one of the most important legacies of Butler: The Marine Corps Small Wars Manual. It was written by Butler, is still used today, especially in the current conflicts, and was used as the model for the Joint Counter-Insurgency Manual. That’s one hell of a legacy!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/everett.morris Everett Morris

    I will never forget Chesty’s saying. “This is my Rifle, This is my Gun, This one is for fighting and this one is for fun”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Yamaguchi/100000049486715 David Yamaguchi

    I like Gen Puller. He is inspiring and the most mentioned General in college Sociology, US History, ethnic studies, and Foreign Policy classes.

  • Terry Mahoney

    Yes, I voted for Butler, for all the good it will do. I love Chesty like any Marine, but Butler, once you get to know him, is superlative.

    And it’s not his 2 MOH (one of which he himself said he didn’t rate) or the Brevet medal. Its for his unflinching standards. Yes, even greater than Chesty.

    Anyway, Semper Fi.