Major Louis Cukela was born in the Croatian city of Split, which at the time existed under the domain of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. He immigrated from the Balkans to the United States in 1913. He served in the US Army from 1914-1916 and then joined the US Marines and served with them during the First World War. He was famous for speaking in broken English. Once he was reprimanding a negligent subordinate and famously said “Next time I send damn fool, I go myself." This phrase was jokingly spread among the ranks of front-line soldiers. It is rumored that even General Pershing used the phrase once.