A General Mattis Christmas Story-Truth!

Summary of eRumor:

A commentary making the rounds titled “A General Mattis Christmas Story” tells about how President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to serve as Secretary of Defense, Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis personally filled in for an officer on duty so the officer could spend Christmas Day with his young family.

The Truth:

“A General Mattis Christmas Story” has been correctly attributed to Dr. Albert C. Pierce, the director of the Center for the Study of Professional Military Ethics at the United States Military Academy.

Pierce recounted the “General Mattis Christmas Story” story while introducing Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis before a lecture titled “Ethical Challenges in Contemporary Conflict: The Afghanistan and Iraq Classes” at the United States Naval Academy in the spring of 2006. An archived recording of Pierce’s introduction can be heard here.

Peirce’s General Mattis Christmas Story was a retelling of a story told by Gen. Charles Kruliak. Kruliak and his wife made and delivered hundreds of Christmas cookies to Marine guard posts in the Washington-Annapolis-Baltimore area each Christmas. One year, while making a cookie delivery to Quantico, Kruliak asked was surprised to find Mattis filling in for the officer in comamnd:

…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…

The General Mattis Christmas story has been circulating in forum posts and forwarded emails as far back as 2010 — but it resurfaced in 2016 after President-elect Trump announced that he would nominate Mattis to serve as secretary of defense.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 12/05/2016

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.”