WASHINGTON, D.C. ― It’s not often that the secretary of the Navy speaks at the promotion ceremony of a Marine who is picking up the rank of private first class. Then again, Pfc. Chesty XVI is not just any Marine.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro personally changed the Marine Corps mascot and English bulldog into a dress-blue-Charlies-style onesie bearing an E-2 chevron at a ceremony held at Marine Barracks Washington on Tuesday. The promotion was well earned, according to Del Toro.
“Since you relieved your predecessor, you’ve amassed a nearly spotless record,” Del Toro said. “Literally. No spots on the rug, no sword biting, no assaults on your superiors and no barking in silent drill.”
Pfc. Chesty XVI enlisted in the Marine Corps in February and relieved Lance Cpl. Chesty XV of his duties in May. Lance Cpl. Chesty XV was reportedly a handful, so much so that Del Toro had to give the bulldog an official pardon at his retirement ceremony.
In contrast, his successor has mostly obeyed official orders to sit at a majority of the summer’s parades, according to Col. Robert A. Sucher, commanding officer of Marine Barracks Washington. Unlike Chesty XV, Chesty XVI also hasn’t attacked any Marines’ scabbards or tried to jump on guests at parades, said Cpl. Jesus A. Moras, handler to both mascots.
In a nod to the Marine moniker “Devil Dog,” the Corps has had an English bulldog as its official mascot for a century. The first, Jiggs, enlisted as a private in 1922 and rocketed to the rank of sergeant major in less than two years.
Since 1957, the mascots have borne the name Chesty in honor of legendary Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller.
Still a puppy, Chesty XVI wears two medals on his uniform: the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Moras confirmed to Marine Corps Times that the private first class, in addition to being a good Marine, is a very good boy. In his off-duty moments, Pfc. Chesty XVI likes to walk around the barracks, according to Moras.
“For myself and the other Marines around here, sometimes you’re having a bad day and you see Chesty walking around and it cheers you up, especially being away from family and away from home,” Moras said.
When Marine Corps Times offered Chesty XVI the chance to comment on his promotion, he remained doggedly silent.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.