The U. S. Naval Institute mourns the passing of Navy Cross recipient, strategic visionary and Naval Institute member Victor H. Krulak. Lieutenant General Krulak died in his sleep on the evening of December 29 at age 95.
Born in Denver, Colorado January 7, 1913, General Krulak graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1934 and served as a "paramarine" during World War II. His remarkable heroism in leading a diversionary raid associated with the fall 1943 invasion of Bougainville earned him the Navy Cross and a Purple Heart. Widely credited for his role in fighting post-World War II attempts to abolish the Marine Corps as a separate service, "Brute," as he came to be known, went on to serve as a counterinsurgency advisor to the Joint Staff and to command Fleet Marines in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. His son, Charles C. Krulak, followed his father's footsteps to the Naval Academy and Marine Corps, eventually serving as the Marine Corps commandant.
One of Victor Krulak's lasting legacies is his Naval Institute Press epic First to Fight – a riveting insider's chronicle of the unique esprit de corps displayed by U. S. Marines on and off the battlefield. Alluding to the general's role in pushing aside arguments to do away with the Corps, Publishers Weekly called the book "the most complete account to date of the Marines' struggle for the 'right to fight.' " The texts' lasting value is evidenced by its inclusion over many years on the Marine Corps' Recommended Reading List. In 2007, it was made required reading for all Marines. Explaining the decision, in the November 2008 edition of Proceedings, Commandant of the Marine Corps James Conway praised Victor Krulak's admonition that Marines "must see no mission as too dangerous, no notice too short, no task too humble." "Indeed," observed Conway, "the nation expects her Marines to roll out fast and hit hard on the other end, and this is what makes First to Fight the marquee title of the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program today."
In 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised Victor Krulak's service, noting that the general's life offered important lessons "about learning from the experiences and setbacks of the past, about being open to ideas and inspiration from whatever they come, and about overcoming conventional wisdom and bureaucratic obstacles thrown in one's path."
Though funeral plans are pending, it is anticipated a memorial service will be held at Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar in early January.