Defense Secretary Jim Mattis seems to have settled into his new gig at the Pentagon, and he’s already making lots of friends … while doing his own laundry in the basement.
On Thursday, Benny Johnson, a reporter for Independent Journal Review, recounted a run-in he had with Mattis on Tuesday night, just before President Donald Trump’s joint address to Congress. Johnson came upon Mattis with a group of veterans who needed someone to take their photo with the new secretary of Defense.
After introducing himself, Johnson asked Mattis how his transition was going at the Pentagon. In true form, Mattis responded:
“I treat the people inside that building like my family.
When I go down to get my laundry in the basement, I factor in ten extra minutes every trip just so I can talk with people. Ya know, they see me coming down the hallway and want to ask something, they should be able to. We work just like a family.”
“… just like a family.” Mattis, please be my dad.
Before parting ways, Johnson asked the secretary whether people in the Pentagon were still calling him “Mad Dog.” According to Johnson, he responded:
“You know, that is not my real call sign? That was something made up by the press. Some reporter, who needed a quick name for me. My real name is Chaos. ‘Colonel Has An Outstanding Solution.’ That is my real call sign and what my men used to call me. Anyone who has ever worked with me calls me Chaos. That’s the name I prefer.”
Mattis then closed with, “Call me Chaos,” winked, and walked away.
These stories probably don’t surprise people who knew him in uniform. There’s one in particular that perfectly captures Mattis’ true character.
Stars and Stripes confirmed this rumor in 2011, after speaking to retired Marine Gen. Charles Krulak, who was commandant at the time.
In 1998, Krulak was making his final rounds on Christmas Day at Marine Corps Combat Development Command headquarters at Quantico, Virginia, when he asked who the officer of the day was. Turned out it was Mattis, who was then a brigadier general.
“So I said to him, ‘Jim, what are you standing the duty for?’ Krulak recounted. “And he said, ‘Sir, I looked at the duty roster for today and there was a young major who had it who is married and had a family; and so I’m a bachelor, 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.’”
Yes, this man can kill you with knifehands, charisma, and kindness.