General Krulak, the former Commandant of the Marine Corps and the chair of the Naval Academy Board of Visitors, often tells a story whenever General Jim Mattis is mentioned. Back in a day when he was commanding the Corps, General Krulak had a custom he always honored during the Christmas. His wife and he would bake hundreds of cookies in their home and packed them in small bags.
On Christmas Day, General would load his car with cookies and about 4 PM would drive to every Marine post in Washington-Annapolis-Baltimore area delivering cookies to every Marine that would happen to be on guard duty. One of his stops was the command center. He entered and gave cookies to the lance corporal on duty. Then he inquired about the officer of the day. Lance corporal answered it was Brigadier General Mattis. Thinking that lance corporal didn’t hear him well, General Krulik asked again: “No, no, no. I know who General Mattis is. I mean, who’s the officer of the day today, Christmas day?” Anxious lance corporal tried to explain again to the Commander: “Sir, it is Brigadier General Mattis.”
General Krulik was now convinced that lance corporal was too tired to understand him. He tried a different approach. Pointing to a cot in the corner of the room for an officer on duty, he said: “No, Lance Corporal. Who slept in that bed last night?” The lance corporal, feeling very close to panic, said again: “Sir, it was Brigadier General Mattis.”
Fortunately for the lance corporal, Jim Mattis entered the room at that moment. He was wearing his dress uniform, with his sword hanging from his belt. General Krulik asked why is he pulling duty on Christmas and Mattis answered that he changed places with a young officer, so he could spend Christmas with his family.
General Krulik finished his story by saying: “That’s the kind of officer that Jim Mattis is.”