What is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps?
The U.S. Army’s Military Academy has a mule for a mascot. The U.S. Naval Academy has a goat. The U.S. Air Force has a falcon, and the Coast Guard Academy has a bear. These are the mascots for the service academies, but there is only one branch of service with an official mascot that is not attached or associated to a service academy, and that is the U.S. Marine Corps mascot. What is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps? Marines are proud to have English bulldogs as their mascots.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps we can expound. The tradition of having an English bulldog as the Marine Corps mascot started during World War I. The Marines from 1st Battalion, 6th Marines had respectfully earned their nom de guerre after fighting fiercely against the Germans in France at Belleau Wood. The Germans called the Marines “teufel hunden” which means devil dogs in German folklore. The nickname stuck and from then on, Marines were also known affectionately as “devil dogs.”
After WWI, Marines at Marine base Quantico obtained a registered English bulldog named King Bulwark, but according to the Defense Department, during a formal ceremony on Oct. 14, 1922, U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler signed documents enlisting him into the Corps, and renaming him Pvt. Jiggs, for the “term of life.” On New Year’s Day 1924, Jiggs was promoted to sergeant and seven months later, he was promoted to sergeant major. When he died four years after enlisting, he was buried with military honors. This should have put an end to the people asking what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps? But it didn’t.
World War II
Asking the question what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps is less important than asking the reason why bulldogs were chosen to be the Marine Corps mascot. Sure, it is important to know what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps, but even more important to know why. As we’ve explained, part of the reason is because the Marines fought hard at Belleau Wood, but another reason why is because Winston Churchill had a bulldog, and it was often used as a symbol of British defiance of Nazi Germany during World War II.
When America entered WWII, the Marines had already been respectfully anointed by their enemy as devil dogs so naturally when Churchill’s ever-present bulldog was coupled with Marine Corps lore, it came as no surprise that a bulldog was put on a Marine Corps recruitment poster during WWII. The poster featured a bulldog wearing a helmet while chasing a fleeing German dachshund in a German helmet. Not to mention, bulldogs are famous worldwide as symbols of courage.
But wait, as they say on television commercials, there’s more when it comes to answering the question what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps?
In 1957, the Marines started the tradition of naming their mascots “Chesty.” The question what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps became less important because by then, most knew that it was the English bulldog. The focus shifted to why were the mascots named Chesty?
Chesty the Legend
The name Chesty is to pay homage to Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller. During his Marine Corps service from 1918 to 1955, Puller became the most decorated Marine in U.S. history, earning five Navy Crosses and an Army Distinguished Service Cross. He served in Central America, World War II and the Korean War. As a tribute to the legendary man, the Corps found a way to have him live on.
Since 1957, there have been numerous mascots and today, the sixteenth iteration of Chesty is serving in the Marine Corps at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.
The mascots serve a four-year enlistment and are then discharged into the care of an adoptive family who cares for them in retirement. Puppies are selected to replace the incumbents and begin socialization training usually under the presence and tutelage of the reigning Chesty. Puppies earn the rank of private once they complete training. Once the training is complete, the new Chesty assumes the position and the retiring Chesty enjoys retirement.
Marine Corps mascots have participated in evening parades and in other special events since their inception in 1957. What is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps? An English bulldog named Chesty, but did you know that the Marine Corps mascot is not alone?
Who Let the Dogs Out?
Bulldogs serve at boot camp training installations, where, like Chesty, they also participate in parades, ceremonies, and morale-boosting activities. Opha Mae II is named after Opha Mae Johnson, the woman considered to be the first female Marine. Opha Mae I also set her own precedent becoming the first female bulldog mascot in the Marine Corps. Opha Mae II currently serves as Parris Island’s 21st mascot, according to the Marine Corps.
What is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps at the training base in San Diego? His name is Manny, and he is, you guessed it, an English Bulldog. He is named in honor of Sgt Johnny R. Manuelito, Sr., one of the Navajo Code Talkers who trained in the first All Navajo Platoon on the base in San Diego in 1942. Manuelito helped create the code that the Navajos used during the war. He became an instructor, teaching other Navajo Marines the code. Later, Manuelito participated in the battle of Iwo Jima, where a Marine signals officer stated, had it not been for the Code Talkers, the Marines would have never taken Iwo Jima.
One of the more famous mascots was Chesty VI who got in a lot of trouble in 1979. In fact, he was reduced in rank from private first class to private for disobeying an order and destroying property. He had been ordered to stay away from a punching bag by his handler, a gunnery sergeant. The dog destroyed the bag.
Two years later, he received nonjudicial punishment for biting two corporals according to Marine Corps charge sheets. He was also given two weeks extra duty. Marines have their standards and they won't let that go to the dogs.