Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6 – Part 7 – Part 8 – Part 9 – Part 10 – Part 11 – Part 12 – Part 13 – Part 14 – Part 15 – Part 16 – Part 17 – Part 18 – Part 19 – Part 20 – Part 21 – Part 22 – Part 23 – Part 24 – Part 25 – Part 26 – Part 27 – Part 28 – Part 29 – Part 30
Lewis “Chesty” Puller is the only Marine ever to be awarded the Navy Cross for heroism on five separate occasions. This is the second highest award for valor in the USMC and US Navy. Only the Congressional Medal of Honor ranks higher.
When it was first instituted by the Congress in February of 1919, the Navy Cross became the US Navy’s 3rd highest award for conspicuous gallantry under fire as well as other duties performed with the highest diligence and distinction. In August 1942, the Congress made the Navy Cross a decoration which could only be awarded for heroism in combat and moved it up one level giving it precedence over the Distinguished Service Medal.
This action by the Congress made the Navy Cross the 2nd highest medal the Navy could award. It shares its position with the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross which the Army gave Puller for courage under fire during the Inchon Landings. Given the rivalry between the Army and the Marines, even more pronounced in those days, this was very unusual. For his courage under enemy fire,
- Puller held six of the nation’s second highest decorations for valor.
In the Marine Corps, bravery under fire is expected of every Marine so getting a medal for it isn’t easy. Being brave is a given, like keeping your weapons clean and in working order. To get a medal for bravery, a Marine has to exhibit extraordinary valor and this has to be confirmed by an investigation which includes interviews with Marines who were on the spot.
The obverse of the Navy Cross.
The reverse of the Navy Cross.
Reading through Puller’s Navy Cross citations one reads this phrase over and over: for extraordinary heroism. You will note this in the following citations for the third, forth and fifth Navy Crosses awarded to Puller.
From the citation of his third Navy Cross:
From the citation of his fourth Navy Cross:
From the citation of his fifth Navy Cross:
[Sources: Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea, 1950 by Martin Russ and the Military Times. Images courtesy of Wikipedia and Wikipedia.]