The Depot

USMC Mascot: What is the Mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps?


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.

The Marine Corps Values: Words to Live By

Marine Corps soldiers in uniform saluting with US and USMC flags in background

Corporate greed and institutional decay brought about a tidal wave of organizational reflection in the 1990s and the U.S. military wasn’t immune to the introspection. During the 1990s, all the service branches formally adopted service-specific values that they had long ago embraced and lived since the services were founded. Most recently, in 2021, the U.S. Space Force adopted its own set of values.

The Marine Corps values are no different. Adopted formally in the 1990s, it is widely accepted that the Marine Corps values have been at the center of Marine Corps culture since 1775.

“Honor, Courage, and Commitment are not just words; they frame the way Marines are to live and act,” wrote the 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Carl E. Mundy Jr whose memorandum made official the adoption of the Marine Corps values.

The Marine Corps values for decades have helped the Marine Corps create its identity by expecting its Marines to live with Honor, Courage, and Commitment. It requires Marines to adhere to higher standards of professional and personal conduct, and devote themselves to the good order of discipline.

Mundy believed and wrote in his memo that the purpose of creating the Marine Corps values was to “Enhance transformation into U.S. Marines through a rigorous, thorough reaffirmation of Marine Corps Values training and education.”

Mundy penned the “Statement on Core Values of The United States Marines” and he identified each Marine Corps value. They are:

This is the cornerstone of Marine Corps values and character. This word is a beacon that helps Marines navigate the complex world in which they operate. It enables them to be ethical, uncompromising in principles, and to conduct themselves with integrity. By doing so, Marines are accountable for their actions and hold others accountable for their actions.

A Marine cannot be honorable without courage. As we’ve all heard, it takes bravery to do the right thing and courage thus is the centerpiece of the Marine Corps values. In addition, the physical nature of Marine Corps missions requires that Marines muster bravery and overcome the paralytic nature of combat. Intestinal fortitude is a huge part of the Marine Corps values, whether it means stepping up to do the right thing, or executing a hard mission with honor and integrity.

According to the Marine Corps, commitment is the spirit of determination and dedication found in Marines. It leads to the highest order of discipline for individuals and units. It is the ingredient that enables constant dedication to Corps and country. It inspires the unrelenting determination to achieve victory in every endeavor.

Clearly, the Marines expect a 24/7 commitment to the Marine Corps values. While a Marine may be off duty and not in uniform, they are still expected to live by the Marine Corps values. This commitment does not end when they leave military service.

Ask any Marine veteran and they will proudly tell you, once a Marine, always a Marine. This complete devotion and commitment to the Marine Corps values is what separates the Marine Corps from other branches of service.

Today in Marine Corps History

monument of the flag raising in Iwo Jima

If you’re a Marine or just a big fan of Marines, here’s some information to help you recognize their major milestones over the course of American history.

November 10, 1775: The Continental Congress passes legislation that two Marine battalions be raised for service as landing parties in the Continental Navy. The Marines served throughout the Revolutionary War, but in 1783 at the end of the war, they were completely disbanded. In 1798, 15 years later, they would be formed again. Despite the break in service, Nov. 10, 1775 is still considered to be the “birthday” of the U.S. Marines Corps. So, today in Marine Corps history marks the birthday of the Marine Corps.

March 3, 1776:  Today in Marine Corps history, the Marines descended on Fort Nassau in the Bahamas. The British military had been storing munitions in the Bahamas for use against the colonies in the Revolutionary War. Initially, more than 200 barrels of gunpowder were moved from Virginia to the Bahamas by the British. Learning of the cache, the newly formed Continental Marines sailed to the Bahamas with 235 Marines and captured not just full stores of gunpowder, but also other weapons. The British surrendered within minutes after the Marines came ashore.

April 27, 1805: Today in Marine Corps history the Battle of Derna began. There are a lot of misconceptions from this battle, but what isn’t up for debate is that it was a decisive victory. The battle was led by U.S. Army Lt. William Eaton who helped organize a mercenary army which included eight U.S. Marines under the command of U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Presley Neville O’Bannon. Pirates were raiding ships off the Barbary Coast so American forces were sent to protect American ships. The eight Marines who fought there wore high leather collars with their uniforms to protect against saber cuts, hence their nickname, “leathernecks.” The force landed and after recruiting a multinational force which included Greeks and Arabs, they marched 600 miles to Derna, Libya where they fought. They also rescued the crew of the USS Philadelphia which had been held hostage. The victory helped secure trading areas and protected U.S. ships. It was the first victory for the Marines on a foreign land and the first time U.S. forces, albeit a tiny force, fought on foreign soil.

Sept. 13, 1847: Today in Marine Corps history the Battle of Chapultepec was fought as part of the Mexican American War. More than 7,000 U.S. Army soldiers, including Ulysses Grant, George Pickett, James Longstreet, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, and 400 U.S. Marines fought their way into the Palacio Nacional. Accounts vary from those who were there, but about 40 Marines participated in the storming of the castle. Marines suffered a 90 percent casualty rate. The battle would earn a place in the Marine Corps Hymn as “The Halls of Montezuma.” The palacio is still used today by the Mexican government. Marine Corps tradition maintains that the red stripe is worn on the trousers of the dress blues uniform, known as the blood stripe, to show respect for the Marine non-commissioned and commissioned officers who died while storming Chapultepec, even though iterations of the stripe predate the war.

June 7, 1918: Today in Marine Corps history, outside of Paris in Belleau Wood, the 4th Marine Brigade fixed bayonets and charged at the enemy. They endured low supplies, heavy casualties and blistering enemy fire. After 20 days of intense fighting against the Germans, the Marines won the battle and the Germans labeled them “Devil Dogs” for fighting so tenaciously.

Feb. 23, 1945: Today in Marine Corps history the Marines were sent in to capture airfields on Iwo Jima. The battle lasted 36 days and the Marines struggled with high casualties, terrain that was full of tunnels (and enemy), and a relentless Japanese military that would die rather than surrender. Early in the battle, a group of Marines raised the flag over Mt. Suribachi as a way to encourage Marines below to keep fighting. Later, Marines returned to that summit and replaced the flag with a larger one. The iconic moment was photographed and is likely the most known image of World War II.

Nov. 27, 1950: Today in Marine Corps history, at the Chosin Reservoir, the 1st Marine Division found itself surrounded and outnumbered 8 to 1 by the Chinese Army. Without air support, the Marines were cut off and were forced to fight in temperatures reaching -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Nonetheless, the “Chosin Few” as they would be called, killed 10 Chinese divisions and fought their way back to the sea as UN forces retreated.

March 2, 1968: Today in Marine Corps history, after 33 days of fighting in what is considered the longest and bloodiest battle of the Vietnam War, outnumbered Marines fought a vicious battle in Hue City against North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces. The battle started with the Tet Offensive on the first night of the Vietnamese lunar new year and hundreds of attacks were launched across the country. In the end, after block by block fighting, the Marines retook the city.

Jan. 17, 1991: Today in Marine Corps history, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, a coalition of international forces launched Operation Desert Storm to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Marine aviators used airpower to help destroy Iraq’s air and naval forces, antiair defenses and missile launchers. The 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions attacked through Iraq’s southern border while 8,000 Marines kept the Iraqi army distracted in the north. The ground war lasted less than 100 hours.

Nov. 25, 2001: Today in Marine Corps history, just two months after the 9-11 attacks, about 1,000 Marines were the first major conventional ground force in Afghanistan sent to fight Al-Qaeda. In 2004, Afghanistan held its first elections. In June 2010, the war in Afghanistan became the longest war in U.S. history. The war is still being fought and more than 114,000 Marines have served in Afghanistan. Two Marines, Dakota Meyer and Kyle Carpenter earned the Medal of Honor in Afghanistan.

March 19, 2003: Today in Marine Corps history, the U.S. military launches the invasion of Iraq first by air, then by land as Marines fight in Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein. While they served in many roles and in many fights, their most known is Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah in November 2004. The majority of Marine battles were fought in urban environments making the fighting challenging because of booby traps and an enemy that often used remotely detonated weapons to fight. Jason Dunham was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq.