Lewis B. Puller, Jr. (August 18, 1945 - May 11, 1994) was an attorney, Pulitzer prize winning author and officer in the United States Marine Corps. He was severely wounded in the Vietnam War.
Lewis Burwell Puller Jr. was the son of General Lewis "Chesty" Puller, the most decorated Marine in the history of the Marine Corps. He followed in his father's footsteps and became a Marine officer. Puller graduated high school from Christchurch School in Christchurch, Virginia. Upon graduation from the College of William and Mary in 1967, Puller was shipped to Vietnam, where he was badly wounded when he tripped a booby-trapped howitzer round on October 11, 1968, losing both legs and most of his fingers in the explosion. The shell riddled his body with shrapnel, and he lingered near death for days with his weight dropping to 55 pounds, but Puller survived. Those who knew him say that it was primarily because of his iron will and his stubborn refusal to die. Because of his wounds, Puller was medically discharged from the Marine Corps. During his short active-duty military career, Puller earned the Silver Star, two Purple Hearts, the Navy Commendation Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.
Death and aftermath
On May 11, 1994 Puller died due to a self-inflicted gunshot. He and his wife, Linda T. (Toddy) Puller, had separated shortly before his death.
Noah H. Belew’s comment: About a year before Lewis’ death, I wrote him a letter telling him that his father was my Commanding Officer during World War II and the Korean War. I also told Lewis that I attended his father’s retirement party at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and his father gave me his tag bearing three stars from the front of his government vehicle, and I would like to send it to him. Lewis answered my letter and asked that I keep it for myself. He also sent me an autograph copy of his book, Fortunate Son. His last comment was that he was returning to Vietnam for a short visit. He did go and returned safely.
In a statement, Puller's wife, Toddy said, "Our family has been moved and humbled by the outpouring of affection for Lewis. The many acts of kindness from our friends across the country have helped us in this very difficult time. It is clear that Lewis affected the lives of people in ways that we never knew." Of her deceased husband, she said, "To the list of names of victims of the Vietnam War, add the name of Lewis Puller ... He suffered terrible wounds that never really healed." Toddy Puller had been elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1991.
In addition to his wife, Puller's survivors included their two children, Lewis III and Maggie, his twin sister, Martha Downs, and sister, Virginia Dabney.