Tribute

By Robert Coram

After surgery in the States to repair a nerve injured during jump training, Krulak returned to the Pacific where he was General Lemuel Shepherd's operations officer for the invasion of Okinawa. For his role in training the 6th Marine Regiment and for his role in the landing, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Today many Marine officers know only vaguely of something called the "Chowder Society" and the unification battle of the post-war years. Krulak was the most important member of that small group, and were it not for his efforts the Marine Corps would either have been subsumed by the Army and Air Force or would have been returned to its long-ago status as a shipboard gendarmerie. The turning point in that bitter battle was the "Bended Knee Speech" delivered to a Senate committee by Commandant General A. A. Vandegrift and one of the most powerful, moving, and effective speeches ever delivered by a military man to Congress. Krulak wrote most of the speech, all of the grand passages, including this one: "The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. If the Marine as a fighting man has not made a case for himself after 170 years of service, he must go."

He also wrote much of the language for the National Security Act of 1947 and for the 1952 amendment that made the Marine Corps the only branch of the U.S. military whose manpower minimums are set by law.

Overlapping the unification battle was Krulak's prominent role in developing Marine Corps tactical doctrine for the employment of helicopters. Krulak wrote doctrine that far exceeded the capability of helicopters at the time.

In 1964 Krulak became Commanding General, Fleet Marine Forces, Pacific, and was the primary force behind the Marine Corps creation of civil action platoons in Vietnam, which history has remembered as perhaps the best way to fight a counterinsurgency war in that country.

In 1967, when he was front-runner among those mentioned as the next Commandant, Krulak confronted President Lyndon Johnson over how Johnson was prosecuting the war. For that act of great moral courage, Krulak was denied the Commandancy and his fourth star.

But in the process he gained something else. Few men have ever loved anything as much as Brute Krulak loved the Marine Corps. That love and pride shine through every page of his book, First to Fight , a book read today by every Marine on orders from the current Commandant, General James T. Conway. And when those men who have the high honor of being known as "Giants of the Corps" are listed, none shines brighter than the name Brute Krulak.

Mr. Coram is the author of 12 books, including Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War . He is writing a biography of Lieutenant General Krulak.
 

Mr. Coram is the author of 12 books, including Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. He is writing a biography of Lieutenant General Krulak.

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