- The Washington Times - Monday, April 8, 2013

He wears his uniform beautifully, and he’s got undeniable charisma. That would be Pfc. Chesty XIV, a young English bulldog who made his first official appearance as a U.S. Marine when he received his eagle, globe and anchor emblems in a ceremony Monday at Marine Barracks in Southeast Washington.

Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, pinned the emblems on the canine’s collar, accompanied by Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett, during the ceremony at the Corps’ oldest post.

A certain top dog looked on with much interest.

Sgt. Chesty XIII, the current mascot, eyed his young charge; Marines from each of the seven companies at the Barracks cheered the young pup on. All have high expectations for the Corps’ newest “devil dog.” The ceremony marked the conclusion of recruit training and a basic indoctrination for the youthful but very ready Chesty XIV. In the upcoming months, he will complete obedience training to complement his military prowess and serve in a mascot-apprentice roll, trotting alongside his “predecessor and mentor” until the elder Chesty retires in late August.

“Everything’s going really well, and little Chesty’s right on track with his career,” handler Cpl. Gaige Roberts said.

There’s much history here for dog and human alike.

The Marine Corps mascot tradition dates to World War I when German reports had called the attacking Marines “teufel-hunden,” or “devil-dogs.” Soon afterward, a recruiting poster depicted a snarling English bulldog wearing a Marine Corps helmet, an image that resonated with Marines and the public alike. The Marines soon unofficially adopted the English bulldog as their mascot in 1922.

Later, one Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler signed documents enlisting the first official bulldog, renamed Jiggs, for the “term of life.” But Jiggs gave way to Chesty, and many more Chesties after that.

“In the late 1950s the Marine Barracks in Washington, the oldest post in the Corps, became the new home for the Corps’ mascot. Renamed Chesty to honor the legendary Lt. Gen. Lewis B. ‘Chesty’ Puller Jr., the mascot made his first formal public appearance at the Evening Parade on 5 July 1957. In his canine Dress Blues, Chesty became an immediate media darling, a smash hit,” wrote Marion F. Sturkey in “Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines,” published in 2001.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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