Goodnight, Chesty, Wherever, Whaever...
Chesty Puller On “Loyalty Down”
Puller: “I also learned that this loyalty to one’s Corps travels both ways, up and down.”
The following is in relation to the well-known Ribbon Creek/S/Sgt Matthew McKeon trial at MCRD, Parris Island, SC, in 1956
Amid a nationwide public outcry regarding the whole matter of the drownings in particular and Marine Corps training practices in general, LtGen Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller was recalled to active duty to testify at the trial regarding Marine training and tradition. Mrs. Puller protested to her husband citing previous trouble and controversy in Puller’s career. Puller told her, “...The important thing is the Marine Corps. If we let ‘em, they’ll tear it to pieces. Headquarters won’t speak up. It’s my duty to do it.”
At the trial, Puller was asked questions pertaining to his own military service, the mission of the Marine Corps, the most important element of Marine training, etc. In part, Puller replied that:, “...The definition of military training is success in battle. In my opinion, it is the only objective of military training...”
He quoted Napoleon. “He stated that the most important thing in military training is discipline. Without discipline an army becomes a mob.”
Puller was asked what he had learned here (PISC) as a recruit. He replied, “Well, the main thing—that I have rememberd all my life—is the definition of espirit de corps. Now my definition—that I was taught, that I’ve always believed in—is that espirit de corps means love for one’s military legion. In my case the United States Marine Corps. I also learned that this loyalty to one’s Corps travels both ways, up and down.
“Q: Now, general, I want you to assume that what is the evidence in this case is a fact. That on a Sunday evening a drill instructor took a platoon that was undisciplined and lacked spirit and on whom he’ tried other methods of discipline. And that for purposes of teaching discipline and instilling morale he took that platoon into a marsh or creek—all the way in front of his troops—would you consider that oppression?
A: In my opinion it is not.”
“Q: So, in your opinion, was this act of this drill instructor in leading his troops, under those conditions and for that purpose, good or bad military practice?
...I would train my troops as I thought—as I knew they should be trained—regardless of a directive.”
“Q: ...I lead these recruits into water over their heads and I lose six of those men by drowning. Would you say that some action should be taken against me?
A: I would say that this night march was and is a deplorable accident.”
“Q: Would you take any action against me if I were the one who did that, if you were my Commanding Officer, sir?
A: ...I think, from what I read in the papers yesterday of the testimony of General Pate before this court, that he agrees and regrets that this man was ever ordered tried by general court-martial.”
“Puller went into the noncom’s club that night with Berman, two Marine generals and other officers; the big crowd stood, shouting until he spoke:
‘I’ve talked enough for today. This will be my last request. Do your duty and the Marine Corps will be as great as it has always been for another thousand years.’
The applause was deafening.”
The book, “ Marine, The Life of Lt. Gen. Lewis B. (Chesty) Puller, USMC (Ret.)”
By Burke Davis, 1962, Bantam
Is this line the tack you are recommending Marine leaders use in the implementation of Don't Ask. Don't Tell?
...I would train my troops as I thoughtas I knew they should be trainedregardless of a directive. Or, is there another point you are making?