Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Family of Chesty Puller

All that have served in the United States Marine Corps for the past century know a lot about the most decorated Marine in the history of the Marine Corps, however, we don't know much about his family life. This will give you a tidbit of his private home life.

Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, considered by many to be the greatest fighting man ever to wear Marine boots, didn't marry until he was 39. He had known the woman he would marry all his life but didn't realize the freckled faced daughter of a family friend had grown into a beautiful woman until 1926 when he ran into her at a dance in Urbanna, VA. It was that night that he decided to marry Virginia Evans.

Lewis was the quintessential Marine, but was seriously lacking in the skills of courtship. Virginia was the belle of the ball and had caught the eye of most of the men in attendance. Lewis had managed to dance with her three times but his attempts at conversation were awkward. Before his fourth dance with her he decided to use the direct approach and so with great confidence he asked her straight out to marry him. Of course she said no. Her excuse was that she hadn't finished school yet, but she was impressed that he had not danced with any other women all night. Before he left for his next assignment in Hawaii, he sent her three very rare orchids at a cost of $10, which was a large sum of money in 1926. Her joyful letter to him evoked the following reply; "Marry me, and I'll buy you three dozen orchids every month of your life."

For eleven years Lewis corresponded with Virginia from his various duty stations all over the world, sending her gifts and reminding her of his desire that they wed. Virginia had long been known by her friends as the independent, career minded girl and so it was no surprise that at age 30 she was yet unmarried. When Lewis was stationed in Philadelphia in 1936, he intensified his campaign to marry her.

Virginia was impressed by Lewis' devotion. He wrote to her every day and his letters were full of passion:

I love you so very much Virginia, that I will never be happy unless you are. I would not want you to marry me, if I had the least idea that I could not make you completely happy. I would rather you marry another person other than me if I knew it would make you happy. You are so fine and you have had too much sorrow in this life. From now on life must be different. Your happiness is all that matters to me.

Lewis and Virginia were married on November 13, 1937, and in every way she was the perfect match for him. Her independent nature allowed her to survive their constant separations and the strain of him being at war. Together they had three children, Virginia McCandlish born in May of 1940 and Martha Lee and Lewis Burwell Jr. born in August of 1945.

Virginia Evans Puller died Saturday, February 4, 2006, she is survived by her two daughters and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren . There is very little written about her, however, in her long life she loved and was loved by one of the finest men to ever wear the uniform of the United States Marine Corps. She also endured some unimaginable sorrows. Her son, Lewis Jr., lost both legs and most of his hands in Vietnam and even though he graduated from law school and raised a family, he suffered from severe depression and in 1994 took his own life. Her husband died in October 1971; she outlived him by 35 years, as many years as God gave them together. She must have been one incredible woman.