The Senate late last month approved a third star for Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the former commander of the 1st Marine Division who led charges into both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Earlier this year Mattis, at the request of an instructor at the National Defense University, e-mailed a brief essay about the books he carries with him into combat, from Marcus Aurelius to T.E. Lawrence.
"Our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying (studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us," Mattis wrote.
"I believe that many of my young guys lived" because Mattis learned from other's mistakes and experiences via books, he wrote.
The message was widely forwarded and published in the Marine Corps Gazette in February, an official military publication.
Mattis' use of the words "guys" and "men" versus something that also reflected the existence of female Marines apparently landed him in hot water with someone powerful -- albeit anonymous -- who asked for an investigation.
The matter was ultimately dismissed with support from the Marine Corps, Navy and Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Mattis now heads the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va.