A General Mattis Christmas Story

As told by retired Gen. Charles Krulak, who was the Marine Corps Commandant at the time, on Christmas Day 1998 then BG Mattis stood duty for a young Marine officer so he could spend the day with his family.

It is not unusual for senior Marine officers to relieve junior officers from Christmas duty posts, but when told by one General officer about another, it is worth retelling.

Every year, Gen. Krulak and his wife baked countless cookies in the days ahead of Christmas, put them in little packages and, beginning at 0400 on Christmas Day, he would deliver cookies to all the Marine duty posts around Washington.

Making his final delivery of the day, Gen. Krulak asked the Marine Lance Corporal on duty who the officer of the day was.

The answer: “Sir, it’s Brigadier General Mattis.”

Normally, of course, the officer of the day would’ve been a junior officer, not a general officer.

According to Krulak, he replied to the Corporal, “No, I know who Gen. Mattis is. I mean, who’s the officer of the day?”

The young Marine gave the same response: “Sir, General Mattis.”

“I looked around the duty hut. In the back there were two cots: One for the officer of the day and one for the enlisted Marine. I said, ‘OK, who was the officer who slept on that cot last night?'”

“The Corporal said again, ‘Sir, General Mattis.'”

No sooner had the question been answered a third time than BG Mattis entered the room.

Krulak recalls, “So I said to him, ‘Jim, what are you standing the duty for?’ And he said, ‘Sir, I looked at the duty roster for today and there was a young major who had it, who is married with a family. I’m a bachelor and I thought, “Why should the major miss out on the fun of having Christmas with his family?” And so I took the duty for him.'”

Krulak concluded, “It says volumes about Jim Mattis and his leadership style. He did it very unobtrusively. He just took the duty.”

Because of his recent release from uniformed service, Gen. Mattis will require a waiver for the seven-year moratorium on military officers taking a civilian appointment at the Pentagon. GOP leaders have proposed a stopgap spending bill including a bypass for the Mattis waiver. Even if that fails, it’s unlikely the waiver will be an issue given the high esteem in which he is held with most on Capitol Hill.

Cite: “The Patriot Post ( )”

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