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Lewis Puller, Jr.
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Military Personnel
    (August 18, 1945-May 11, 1994)
    Born in Camp Lejune, North Carolina
    Son of Chesty Puller
    Served with the Marines in the Vietnam War
    Lost both legs, most of his left hand, and two fingers of his right hand in a land mine explosion (October 11, 1968)
    Became an attorney for the Veterans Administration
    Wrote the autobiography 'Fortunate Son' (1991)
    Committed suicide by gunshot
    He suffered depression and drank heavily.
    He attacked his TV with a fireplace poker when he objected to the Vietnam documentary it was showing.
    He ran unsuccessfully for Congress (1978).
    He planned to kill himself by locking himself in the garage and leaving his car's engine running, but instead passed out behind the wheel after getting drunk on vodka (1979).
    In the weeks before his death, he relapsed into alcoholism and became addicted to painkillers.
    He said about growing up the son of a Marine Corps legend, 'He had been a wonderful father, but it had not been easy living in his shadow.'
    The doctor who treated him on the battlefield noted, 'Never had I seen more severe traumatic injuries in a patient who had lived.'
    He said that his father breaking down weeping while visiting him in the hospital hurt more than his physical injuries.
    He considered throwing away his medals (including two Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross), but decided 'They had cost me too dearly.'
    He served on President Ford's clemency panel.
    He visited the Vietnam Memorial every Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
    He won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography for 'Fortunate Son.'
    His friend and fellow Vietnam veteran Senator Bob Kerrey said, 'He had fought his way out of so many holes. In the end, he couldn't fight his way out of the last one.'
    Although not listed on the Vietnam Memorial, his name was added to the nearby In Memory Memorial Plaque for veterans who 'died after their service in the Vietnam war, but as a direct result of that service.'
    He told people that when he died and met St. Peter at the gates of Heaven, he would say, 'One more Vietnam veteran reporting. I have already served my time in Hell.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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