LCpl VanGalder Scores Top Spot at Bootcamp

LCpl Charles V. VanGalder, right, is the recipient of the "Chesty" Puller Recruit Company Honor Graduate Award and is pictured with with his Senior Drill Instructor SSgt Jimmy D. Klein, left. (Photo by LCpl Bethanie C. Stroman.)

"Chesty" Puller's legacy of leadership continues to inspire today's generations of new Marine recruits.

The Marine Corps Association & Foundation provides the "Chesty" Puller Recruit Company Honor Graduate Award for each graduating company at the Parris Island and San Diego Recruit Depots.

LCpl Charles V. VanGalder, from Rochester, Minnesota, was recognized with the award at the Oct. 11, 2013, Kilo Company graduation for 3d Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

The "Chesty" Puller Recruit Company Honor Graduate Award is presented to the Marine of each graduating company who demonstrated the highest potential for future leadership and responsibility in the Marine Corps.

Approximately 90 recruit training companies graduate each year and one recruit honor graduate is selected from each company.

LtGen Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller was one of the most decorated U.S. Marines in history, and is the only Marine to be awarded five Navy Crosses. He received the nation's second highest military decoration a total of six times. In addition to the five Navy Crosses, he was also awarded the United States Army Distinguished Service Cross. Puller started his USMC career as an enlisted man at MCRD Parris Island. He saw service throughout the Banana wars, fought and commanded in the bloodiest battles of WWII and Korea, including walking out of the Chosin Reservoir as Commanding Officer of 1st Marines.

The heirloom trophy is specially designed by sculptor Mark Byrd—a Marine veteran who also served in Vietnam. Chesty is depicted in the statue from a famous photograph during the Korean War. The "Chesty" Puller Recruit Company Honor Graduate Award, other honor graduate awards and awards for all the Marine Corps' formal schools are presented through the MCA&F Marine Excellence Awards Program. Each year MCA&F gives awards to recognize nearly 9,000 deserving Marines and provides about 97 percent of all awards distributed in the Corps outside the USMC awards system.

The "Chesty" Puller Recruit
Company Honor Graduate Award.

(Photo credit by Ron Lunn.)