Alicia Cohn

Monday, October 14, 2013

Marine Corps' new mascot

Original article published in The Washington Examiner: April 8, 2013

Personal photo of Sgt. and Pvt. Chesty

Marine Corps commissions new mascot: Private Chesty the Bulldog

The Marine Corps' newest recruit walks on four legs and almost fell asleep during his commissioning ceremony Monday.

Dressed formally as the "honor graduate" in the blue-white dress uniform of the Marine Barracks, Washington, the three-and-a-half month old English bulldog Chesty received his Eagle, Globe and Anchor insignia from Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps' commandant.

We're guessing the general doesn't ask every newly enlisted Marine: "Do you have anything you want to say for yourself? How 'bout a kiss?"

However wrinkled, his is now the "face of the Marine Corps." Pfc. Chesty XIV officially takes over from Sgt. Chesty XIII at the end of the summer. The two mascots will appear together every Friday during parade season, which begins the first week of May and ends the last week of August. The parades are free and open to the public.

Sgt. Chesty -- who soon retires after five years as mascot to a quieter life with his longtime host family on the base -- along with Pfc. Chesty's primary handler Cpl. Gaige Roberts, still have some work to do whipping the "apprentice mascot" into shape. The commandant had to call young Chesty to report twice to be sworn in (the puppy was eventually carried over), and we saw Sgt. Chesty snort after examining his uniform. Sgt. Chesty had no official comment.

"When he gets sleepy, he doesn't want to listen," confirmed Roberts, who said the puppy is quickly improving with ongoing training. By the end of summer, he should be ready for one to five or more public events every week.

Roberts will attend public events with Chesty, but he will live with Staff Sgt. Jason Mosser and his wife, Christine, who are permanently stationed at the base. Chesty's "mom," who is the only person allowed to pick up the Marine, said it often takes an hour to walk Chesty due to his popularity. The Mossers underwent an interview process to become Chesty's host family, but when he arrived at his new home Feb. 13 it was "love at first sight" with the 9.5-pound "baby." (Chesty is now 15 pounds and could grow to 65.)

Promotion for Chesty, like any Marine, will depend on his performance, adherence to uniform code, behavior and how well he carries out his duties, said Capt. John D. Norton, public affairs officer at Marine Barracks. Chesty's line dates back to 1957, so he has big paws to fill.