Pfc. Chesty receives some love from his host family, Staff Sgt. Jason Mosser and his wife, Christina, following his Eagle, Globe, and Anchor ceremony Monday morning. (Hope Hodge / Staff)
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Pfc. Chesty XIV, official mascot of the Marine Corps in-training, looks at the Marines at the conclusion of his eagle, globe and anchor emblem presentation ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., April 8. (Lance Cpl. Larry Babilya / Marine Corps)
Like the devil dogs who have come before him, Pfc. Chesty XIV received a pin bearing the Marine Corps Eagle, Globe and Anchor in a special ceremony after boot camp. Unlike most, he also received a cuddle and a kiss on the face from the commandant and his wife.
A three-and-a-half month old English Bulldog pup, Pfc. Chesty will be taking over the duties of Marine Corps mascot throughout the coming summer parade season under the hoary supervision of his predecessor, Sgt. Chesty XIII.
The Marine Corps has employed a mascot since the 1920s, said Marine Barracks Washington spokesman Capt. Jack Norton. Since 1957, this position has been filled by a bulldog named Chesty, in honor of Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, the Corps' most famous Marine.
Prior to Pfc. Chesty's Monday morning pinning ceremony, the sleepy-eyed pup went through an abbreviated version of boot camp, including indoctrination with tours of the commandant's mansion and parade field and basic obedience to commands. He earned a meritorious promotion to Pfc. in the process. The pup will spend more time at a traditional obedience school this summer, Norton said.
Pfc. Chesty also sported the Marine uniform for the first time on Monday, a special version of the dress whites made by the same Washington tailor, at 8th Street Southeast, who dresses the other Marines stationed at the barracks.
“(Pfc. Chesty) just finished The Crucible this morning, humped his way in,” Commandant Gen. Jim Amos joked as he pinned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor on the puppy's uniform. “Today he joins the long, rich lineage of Chestys that have gone on before him.”
When the mascot is not making appearances alongside Sgt. Chesty at parades and special events throughout the summer, he will be in the care of his host family. Staff Sgt. Jason Mosser, a member of the Commandant's Own Drum and Bugle Corps, and his wife, Christine, were selected from a pool of applicants to care for the puppy. They adopted him Feb. 13 after he was hand-selected by the Marines from a local breeder.
“You expect the Marine Corps. You forget that he's absolutely adorable,” Christine Mosser said. “Walking him takes about an hour.”
Though Pfc. Chesty will receive a lot of high-profile attention in his career — his predecessor shook hands with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and President Obama — Mosser said at home he's just a member of the family.
“He gets chased by the cat,” she said. “He's our baby.”
Cpl. Gaige Roberts, Pfc. Chesty's official handler, said the dog had come a long way since he started training just a few weeks ago, but he still had a few things to learn.
“When he gets sleepy, he doesn't want to listen,” Roberts said.
During the puppy's pinning ceremony, though, he was a star, greeting the press after receiving his insignia and accepting a challenge coin from Amos with fitting dignity.
When he is ready later this summer, he will take over primary mascot duties from Sgt. Chesty, who will then retire honorably and go to live full-time with his host family after a five-year career.
That's 35 years of service in dog years.