GoFundMeBy contributing to help fund the purchase, former intelligence Marine Sgt. Maleesha Kovnesky, who is spearheading the effort as chair of the nonprofit, said supporters will be directly contributing to a place that will serve as a standing monument to other Marines.

"It’s the perfect place, perfect opportunity and perfect time to make sure there’s a place that fosters camaraderie [so] all Marines everywhere know they have a place to go and people who care," she former intelligence Marine Sgt. Maleesha Kovnesky, who is spearheading the effort as chair of the nonprofit, told Marine Corps Times.

Puller, who died in 1971 at the age of 73, had one of the most distinguished careers in the Marine Corps. He earned five Navy Crosses over his 37 years of service as well as many other combat decorations, campaign medals and unit commendations. He retired as a lieutenant general in 1955, but his legacy lives on, said Kovnesky, who served as an intel Marine and left the Corps in 2000.

The vets hope the 1920-built, 2,253 square-foot suburban house, built in the 1920s, becomes a self-funding venture over the years, with plans to hold events such as weddings, reunions, and promotion or retirement ceremonies on the Puller grounds.

"The intent of the house is to have a place for Marines to gather," Kovnesky said. "It's going to be a place available to Marines, kind of like a home base: If they can't find anywhere to go, they'll always have this."

The group is Virginia 501(c)(3)-pending nonprofit is running against the clock, however, to compete with other offers on the house. The Marine vets are group is also in the process of acquiring a bed and breakfast next door to the Puller family home, and the combined seven acres and nine bedrooms between the two properties could serve as a place of refuge for veterans in need, in addition to a venue for Marine events, according to the group.

"This will be a cultural point of reference for Marines to make sure something as iconic as Chesty Puller's home does not fall by the wayside" said Anthony Pino, a former captain who worked as an air intel officer and now serves as the vice chairman of the nonprofit. "If it's going to be saved for anything, it should be put to use for Marines."

The drive to acquire the home is not just out of nostalgia for the general, however.

Pino recently lost a Marine friend, which prompted the group to seek practical means of reaching out and assisting fellow Marines.

In a suicide note posted on Facebook, Pino's friend implored Marines to love and to take care of each other.

"His last line was 'the door is unlocked,' and so this is our attitude," Pino said. "The idea that [Chesty's] home would be used well before anyone ever gets to that point to take care of other Marines, I think that would make him happy."

The group sees this as the natural continuation of Chesty Puller's legacy.

Lewis Burwell Puller Jr., the Marine general's Puller's less-well-known son, was severely wounded by a mine while serving as a Marine lieutenant in Vietnam. He lost both legs and parts of his hands, and Chesty broke down sobbing when seeing him for the first time in the hospital.

On May 11, 1994, Lewis Puller Jr. died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"Chesty was a human being just like the rest of us — he's still with us and still helping people like he always did; he was a Marine's Marine, and always looking out for the E-3 who needed help," said board member and retired Gunnery Sgt. Teresa Carpenter. "This is not a bunch of hair-brained Marines getting together, drinking and saying 'Hey, let's buy Chesty Puller's house!' We've really sat down, talked this through and really worked on it."

The group has been able to provide earnest money for the home, but the immediate need is to secure funding to purchase it.

This last week they achieved the status of a pending nonprofit, which Pino said allows them to legally operate in good faith. They are currently working to open an account with a local bank to facilitate the purchase.

Pino said it feels fells like the group has "been building the plane while flying it," but that they are committed to realizing its vision.

"We're at the point now where we're running the risk of the seller pulling out and going with someone else if we can't produce soon," Pino said. "We want to do this the right way."

The property is currently selling for $395,000 and previously sold in February 2007 for $315,000, according to its listing on Zillow.

"Their intention is fabulous," said Lee Chewning, the realtor selling the home with Isabell K. Horsley Real Estate. "I love the idea, but they need to be able to put their money where their there mouth is."

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