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Marine wants Chesty's statue redone

Dec. 23, 2012 - 01:40PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 23, 2012 - 01:40PM  |  
A statue of famed Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller is installed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in October. The statue was dedicated Nov. 12, but already some are calling for revisions based on what they feel are inaccuracies.
A statue of famed Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller is installed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in October. The statue was dedicated Nov. 12, but already some are calling for revisions based on what they feel are inaccuracies. (Lance Cpl. Tabitha Bartley / Marine Corps)
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Few Marines are as revered as Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller. He is as much a part of the service's mythology as Tun Tavern or the Battle for Iwo Jima.

So when the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation unveiled the legend's bronze statue on the grounds of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va., on Nov. 12, retired Maj. Anthony Milavic wanted to be there.

But Milavic said he and other retired Marines in attendance were disappointed to see Puller depicted wearing a standard-issue holster, with a flap covering his M1911 .45-caliber pistol. In fact, Puller routinely wore a custom quick-draw holster that became part of his persona, he said.

Now Milavic is asking the foundation to alter the statue. But a spokesman there says the organization stands behind the work — and the holster.

"Sculptor Terry Jones, in coordination with the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, took great care to ensure all details of Lt. Gen. Puller's uniform were correct for the period portrayed," Dan Gregory wrote in an email. "Jones reviewed many photographs of Lt. Gen. Puller and conducted extensive research on the equipment of the day. The most famous painting of Lt. Gen. Puller ... shows the holster unmodified, as it is on the statue."

While Milavic concedes that Puller may have worn a standard holster in garrison, he says Puller wore his custom holster into combat as seen in historic photographs.

Milavic would like to see the standard-issue holster removed and an accurate one welded on. The foundation isn't budging.

Models of the statue were reviewed by those who served with Puller, his family was consulted and photos of the model were published, Gregory said.

"At no time were concerns mentioned and the Foundation is satisfied with its accuracy," he wrote.

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