Lewis Burwell Puller, Jr.
Lewis Burwell Puller, Jr. (
August 18, 1945– May 11, 1994) was an attorney, Pulitzer prizewinning author and officer in the United States Marine Corps. He was severely wounded in the Vietnam War.
Life and career
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. Upon graduation from the
College of William and Maryin 1967, Puller was shipped to Vietnam, where he was badly wounded by a landmineon October 11, 1968, losing both legs and most use of his hands in the explosion. The mine 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 Medaland the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.
For years after he returned to a reasonably sound physical condition, the emotional ground underneath him remained shaky, though he got a law degree, married, and raised a family. He even mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 1978, representing eastern Virginia. Throughout the years, he battled black periods of despondency and drank heavily until 1981, when he underwent treatment for alcoholism. Despite a return to normality, Puller continued to suffer from severe depression and occasional bouts of
In 1991, Puller told the story of his horrible ordeal and its agonizing aftermath in an inspiring book titled "Fortunate Son," an account that ended with Puller triumphing over his physical disabilities, and becoming emotionally at peace with himself. It won the
Pulitzer Prize. This autobiography also became the basis for the later song "Fortunate Son" by Bruce Hornsby.
According to friends and associates, Puller spent the last months of his life in turmoil. In the days leading up to his death, Puller fought a losing battle with the alcoholism that he had kept at bay for 13 years, and struggled with a more recent addiction, to painkillers initially prescribed to dull continuing pain from his wounds.
Death and aftermath
May 11 1994Puller died due to a self-inflicted gunshot. He and his wife, Linda T. (Toddy) Puller, had separated shortly before his death.
He was buried with full military honors at
Arlington National Cemetery. A caisson drawn by six white horses and led by a seventh escorted his remains to the grave. As is the custom, the casket was draped in a U.S. flag. A Marine Corps honor guard led the way through the cemetery as members of the Marine Corps Band kept time. National, state and local lawmakers joined nearly 700 people paying their respects. An overflow crowd spilled out onto the grounds of Fort Myer Chapel. More than a dozen of the attendees were in wheelchairs, as Puller had been before his death. At that service, recalled the Reverend Robert W. Prichard, who delivered the homily, "He said he envied those people who had a faith that came without any sorrow, faith that came without wavering. He envied it for others, but he couldn't claim it for himself." Prichard said that most of the people who knew Puller wished that his life had been different, that his book, "Fortunate Son," would have propelled him from his despair. "We all wanted it that way," Prichard said. "From weakness to strength, from height to height, from victory to victory." But that was not to be.
Though wounded in the Vietnam War, Puller's name is not listed on the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which is reserved for those died or who are listed as missing in action. Instead, the nearby In Memory Memorial Plaque, represents those veterans, like Puller, who "...died after their service in the Vietnam war, but as a direct result of that service, and whose names are not otherwise eligible for placement on the memorial wall."USPL|106|214]
Terry Anderson, a former
Associated Pressjournalist, who was held hostagein Lebanon, recalled the same hope he had had for his friend, Puller. "This is a man who had so many burdens, so many things to bear. And he bore them well for 25 years," he said. "What did I miss?" Anderson asked. "I was his friend. I thought he was winning."
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 Delegatesin 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.
Lewis is also survied by his sister, Virginia Dabney of Lexington, VA.
*findagrave|4307 Lewis Puller's Gravesite]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Lewis Burwell Puller — may refer to:#Chesty Puller (1898–1971), US Marine Corps general. #Lewis Burwell Puller Jr. (1945–1994), his son, attorney, Pulitzer prize winning author and officer in the US Marine Corps … Wikipedia
Lewis B. Puller — Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Puller Lewis Burwell „Chesty“ Puller (* 26. Juni 1898 in West Point, Virginia; † 11. Oktober 1971 in Saluda, Virginia) war ein Lieutenant General des US Marine Corps (USMC), der sich aus der Unteroffizierslaufbahn hochgedient… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Burwell — bezeichnet: als Person: Burwell Bassett (1764–1841), US amerikanischer Politiker Carter Burwell (* 1955), US amerikanischer Schauspieler, Musiker, Dirigent und Orchestrator Lewis Burwell „Chesty“ Puller (1898–1971), US amerikanischer Militär… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Chesty Puller — Lewis Burwell Chesty Puller Lewis Chesty Puller as Major General Nickname Chesty … Wikipedia
Chesty Puller — Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Puller Lewis Burwell „Chesty“ Puller (* 26. Juni 1898 in West Point, Virginia; † 11. Oktober 1971 in Saluda, Virginia) war ein Lieutenant General des US Marine Corps (USMC), der sich aus der Unteroffizierslaufbahn hochgedient… … Deutsch Wikipedia
William & Mary School of Law — William Mary Law School Established 1779 Type Public University Chancellor … Wikipedia
Vietnam Children's Fund — (VCF) is a non profit organization based in Unionville, Virginia, United States helping children of Vietnam. [ [http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm/bay/search.summary/orgid/7976.htm VCF in Charity Navigator] ] [… … Wikipedia
Littleton Waller — Infobox Military Person name= Littleton Waller Tazewell Waller born= birth date|1856|9|26 died= death date and age|1926|7|13|1856|9|26 placeofbirth= York County, Virginia placeofdeath= Philadelphia, Pennsylvania placeofburial=Arlington National… … Wikipedia
List of U.S. Marines — The following is a list of people who served in the United States Marine Corps and have gained fame through previous or subsequent endeavors, infamy, or successes: Note: When adding a name to this list, please place the same in alphabetical order … Wikipedia
Fortunate Son — may refer to:* Fortunate Son (song) * Fortunate Son ( Enterprise episode) * Fortunate Son ( The Sopranos episode) * Fortunate Son (Hatfield), a biography of George W. Bush by J.H. Hatfield * Fortunate Son , an autobiography by Lewis Burwell… … Wikipedia