THE MARINE CORPS MASCOT IS A BULLDOG NAMED CHESTY
By Buddy Blouin
Many traditions in the military harken back to times that are far gone. Some traditions even go back further than the formation of the United States of America itself. But mascots are a relatively new one. Depending on where you look and who you believe, you’ll find several sources talking about the first mascot, but the common theme is that they only date back to the very late 19th century at the earliest, with the practice truly gaining steam in the 20th century. Fortunately, the U.S. Marine Corps has decided to adopt this morale-boosting method of inspiring its troops. The Marine Corps mascot is a bulldog named Chesty, and it's as amazing as you think.
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What Is the Marine Corps Mascot?Today, the Marine Corps Mascot is an English Bulldog named Chesty XVI, but before you think this name has always applied, think again. The original Marine Corps mascot dog was an English Bulldog named Juggs. The Chesty moniker came to be in 1957 after the mascot was named to honor the late Marine Lieutenant General Lewis “Chesty” Puller.
Why Is the Marine Corps Mascot a Bulldog?The decision to put a bulldog in the Marine Corps comes from World War I. After fighting in WWI, the Marines earned the nickname “Teufel Hunden.” In Bavarian mythology, these dogs were ferocious, frightening beasts. The translation means “Devil Dog,” a nickname the USMC has adopted ever since. While not as obvious as some references, the decision to have a bulldog as the mascot is a play on this phrase and designation. Bulldogs don’t have the best reputation, and it's not fair to blame an entire breed for owners not equipped for their training or who are apathetic toward caring for an animal. But make no mistake about it; bullies are up for the fight. It’s an appropriate mascot and a fun connection playing off of the tenacity shown in WWI that continues to show up in the Marine Corps today. Throughout the world, bulldogs are also known as symbols of courage. A more fitting connection there could never be.
Private 1st Class Chesty XVI Reporting for DutyNo one is mistaking the rank of private first class as the peak of the military’s hierarchy, but when Chesty XVI earned this designation, the branch stopped and took notice. The Secretary of the Navy even attended the Marine Corps mascot’s ceremony and even put him in uniform. Donning a dress-blue-Charlies-style onesie with his E-2 chevron, Chesty XVI earned his promotion at Marine Barracks Washington after proving his grit and obedience. “Since you relieved your predecessor, you’ve amassed a nearly spotless record. Literally. No spots on the rug, no sword biting, no assaults on your superiors, and no barking in [the] silent drill,” said Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro. Despite only being a puppy, the latest mascot in this 100-year tradition has already earned medals. If you see Chesty XVI, you may find him with both the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. His handler, Cpl. Jesus A. Moras, had nothing but good things to say about a mascot that, by all accounts, seems to be a very good boy. “For myself and the other Marines around here, sometimes you’re having a bad day and you see Chesty walking around and it cheers you up, especially being away from family and away from home,” said Cpl. Moras.
The Military Life Isn’t for EveryoneWhile Moras may have been singing Chesty XVI’s praises, the same exact sentiments about discipline and following orders can’t be said about who he replaced. Lance Cpl. Chesty XV wasn’t as disciplined as his new successor. Moras was also Chesty XV’s handler, and by his accounts, the previous mascot had a bit of a wild streak. Having attacked the ceremonial swords and jumped on bystanders at parades, his reputation was known far and wide.
The Marine Corps Mascot Is a Doggone InspirationEven if mascots are fairly new, people have looked to symbols for inspiration and camaraderie all throughout the history of mankind. Chesty has even inspired others, such as Cpl. Johnny R. Manuelito “Manny,” within the branch. Today, he continues to inspire the many warriors and civilians who see him and feel a sense of pride. Overall, the Marine Corps mascot is a great tradition and a bright spot in the U.S. military.
Suggested read:How WWI Turned Marines Into Devil Dogs
Image: Cpl. Mark A. Morales/Marine Corps
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