Although most of us may think that the Marines are nothing but ordinary men offering their services in exchange for some dollars, their job doesn’t end there. They are great examples of bravery, and they serve their country through humanitarian efforts which in some ways may be related to military service. Most of them became prominent for their heroic acts during naval wars, yet others got their fame through extending charitable efforts outside their career. Ranking them in a list is somewhat a difficult task since all of them really deserve recognition and prominence. In no particular order, here are the top 10 out of millions of great Marines of all time, who in their own ways have served their country wholesomely.
1. Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell Puller
He deserves to be on the top of the list after being proclaimed the world’s most decorated Marine in American history after receiving five Navy Cross Awards from his heroic service during the Korean War and World War II. He is also one of the distinguished Marines on the postage stamp. His heroic character was featured in the film The Pacific which was played by William Sandler. His son, Lewis Puller, Jr. also fought during the Vietnam conflicts and received the honor of being a highly decorated lieutenant Marine in Vietnam. However, after losing both his arms and legs after a mine explosion, Puller’s son committed suicide in 1994 which devastated the elder Puller.
2. Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune
He is known to be the greatest among others after getting involved in various battles since the Spanish-American War and WWI. Today, he is famously known as the ‘Marine’s Marine’ and the ‘greatest among all Leathernecks.’ He received American military awards: the Cross of War and the Legion of Honor Award both from France. A camp in North Carolina and a naval transport ship were also named after him to acknowledge his services and heroism. He is also one of the four distinguished Marines on a postage stamp.
3. Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone
He is the only Marine to receive the Medal of Honor after his actions in the Guadalcanal. He also served at Iwo Jima where he was killed. Lewis Puller was the one who suggested Basilone to be awarded the Marine Medal of Honor for his actions at Guadalcanal. To complete his acknowledgements and awards, he is one of the four highly distinguished Marines to be posted in the U.S. Postal Service’s postal stamps roaming around the globe. His courage and gallantry made him totally deserving to be in the highest Marine class.
4. Gunnery Sergeant Ronald Lee Ermey
He was one of the brave American Marines of the Vietnam War and was a beneficiary of many military awards and Marine decorations. Today, his prominence lies in his acting career. He starred in both films Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now. He is well noted to be the most traditional Marine sergeant and has maintained a positive aura in the image of the Marines.
5. Corporal Ira Hamilton Hayes
He became a prominent figure for being a flag raiser at Iwo Jima. Later, he was decorated for his loyal service, but his efforts to serve his country don’t end there. After the war, he walked at least 1,300 miles from an Indian community to Harlon Block’s farm to inform Block’s family that Block, one of his fellow flag raisers, was misidentified to be Hank Hansen, an enemy. Later, Block, together with other flag raisers, were killed days after the information was received. His heroic acts were featured in a 2006 film, Flags of Our Fathers and in one of Johnny Cash’s singles, ‘The Ballad of Ira Hayes.’ His humble services to the country were all praiseworthy.
6. Sergeant Major Daniel Joseph Daly
He got involved during World War I and the Boxer Rebellion which paved his way to fame after receiving two Medals of Honor for his separate heroic acts in 1901 and 1915 correspondingly. He was also highlighted in postage stamps and was one of the four most notable Marines in its set. According to Lejeune (who was also a notable Marine), Major Daly is the world’s greatest Marine of all time.
7. Colonel John Herschel Glenn, Jr
This prominent modern-day Marine figure had witnessed and got involved in the Korean War and WWII. He had a seat in the United States Marine Corps and served as a fighter pilot prior to the U.S.’s proclamation of him being the first American to travel around the Earth in 1962. Later, he was elected as a senator from Ohio and went to office for 25 years since 1974. One year prior to the end of his political career, he was proclaimed to be the World’s Oldest Man to Explore Space. He also became a loyal husband to Annie Glenn since 1943.
8. Corporal Eugene Bondurant Sledge
He was at the same time a teacher while serving as a Marine in Okinawa and Peleliu during WWII. He was also an excellent author of the books With the Old Breed which he had written before the war, and China Marine published after the war. These books served as the bases for the production of the film The Pacific by HBO.
9. Private First Class Robert Leckie
He was one of the great heroes of World War II and fought at Peleliu, Guadalcanal, and Cape Gloucester where he received major injuries. Aside from his career in the Marines, he was also a great agent of literature. He wrote a bestselling book in 1957 entitled Helmet for My Pillow which then became the plot basis for the modern day film The Pacific in 2010. He has also published many other books which all reflect his involvement in the history of the American military.
10. Captain Brian Michael Stann
After his efforts in organizing air and tank support to win back his platoon during a war in Iraq May, 2005, he received a Silver Star award from the U.S. Marines to highlight his notable and heroic deeds. He then starred in an episode of Shootout! on the History Channel to honor the event. Later, he switched his career and became a cage fighter. He excelled in his latter career and got the title, ‘World Extreme Cage Fighting Light Heavyweight Champion’ last 2008. During 2010, he also succeeded and won the Fight of the Night honors after joining the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). Currently, he has two daughters with his wife. He is known worldwide as the demonstrator of bravery and heroism in the age of the modern Marines.
These ten brave men are just part of the other millions who served their countries the best way they could. These figures shall hopefully inspire other men to do something and take part in the improvement of not just their country but the entire realm of humanity. They have shed blood to protect the freedom we currently enjoy, yet we have to do something in return. Perhaps, acknowledging their credentials and taking care of humanity will make these great men feel better wherever they are today.