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A General Mattis Christmas Story

“That’s the kind of officer that Jim Mattis is.”


A General Mattis Christmas Story

A couple of months ago, when I told General Krulak, the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, now the chair of the Naval Academy Board of Visitors, that we were having General Mattis speak this evening, he said, “Let me tell you a Jim Mattis story.” General Krulak said, when he was Commandant of the Marine Corps, every year, starting about a week before Christmas, he and his wife would bake hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Christmas cookies. They would package them in small bundles.

Then on Christmas day, he would load his vehicle. At about 4 a.m., General Krulak would drive himself to every Marine guard post in the Washington-Annapolis-Baltimore area and deliver a small package of Christmas cookies to whatever Marines were pulling guard duty that day. He said that one year, he had gone down to Quantico as one of his stops to deliver Christmas cookies to the Marines on guard duty. He went to the command center and gave a package to the lance corporal who was on duty.

He asked, “Who’s the officer of the day?” The lance corporal said, “Sir, it’s Brigadier General Mattis.” And General Krulak said, “No, no, no. I know who General Mattis is. I mean, who’s the officer of the day today, Christmas day?” The lance corporal, feeling a little anxious, said, “Sir, it is Brigadier General Mattis.”

General Krulak said that, about that time, he spotted in the back room a cot, or a daybed. He said, “No, Lance Corporal. Who slept in that bed last night?” The lance corporal said, “Sir, it was Brigadier General Mattis.”

About that time, General Krulak said that General Mattis came in, in a duty uniform with a sword, and General Krulak said, “Jim, what are you doing here on Christmas day? Why do you have duty?” General Mattis told him that the young officer who was scheduled to have duty on Christmas day had a family, and General Mattis decided it was better for the young officer to spend Christmas Day with his family, and so he chose to have duty on Christmas Day.

General Krulak said, “That’s the kind of officer that Jim Mattis is.”


The story above was told by Dr. Albert C. Pierce, the Director of the Center for the Study of Professional Military Ethics at The United States Naval Academy. He was introducing General James Mattis who gave a lecture on Ethical Challenges in Contemporary Conflict in the spring of 2006. This was taken from the transcript of that lecture.


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2 Comments on A General Mattis Christmas Story

  1. Wow. This account pulled on my heartstrings. When’s the last time you heard of leadership sacrificing like that? Most of the time leadership feels entitled and quickly forgets about the “little guy.” Reminds me of a boss I had a long time ago who had just been promoted. As the new manager, a designated parking spot had been assigned to him right in from of the office building entrance. However, after a few months folks began to question why he never parked in his new spot. One day, when asked about this parking spot, his response was that he felt “uncomfortable” parking so close to the building when he saw his employees walking way far out from the back rows of the large parking lot. He felt that it “separated” him from his employees, and sent a negative message that could become potentially divisive, which is not what he wanted. He said he wanted his employees to know he is just like them as a human, and only different by the jobs they performed……. This General Mattis reminds me of that boss from so long ago. I am only sorry that I haven’t met more like these good men. Maybe it’s time for us to learn more about these people and why Trump feels they are capable of leading a country out of the mess created by these Marxist, hate mongrels. Just my .02.

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