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Video: Marine Corps promotes bulldog to private 1st class

Pfc. Chesty XVI, mascot of the Marine Corps walks back to his seat during a promotion ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington, December 13th, 2022. Chesty XVI, was promoted to the rank of Private First Class by the Honorable Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Navy. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Pranav Ramakrishna)
December 14, 2022

The Marine Corps promoted Chesty XVI, its English bulldog mascot, to private first class Tuesday during a formal ceremony at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. 

Punny jokes were cracked before the puppy was walked on a leash up a short step, where Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro himself helped the dog out of his khaki outfit and into a darker one bearing the E-2 chevron of his new rank.

During the promotion ceremony, Chesty XVI earned a “meritorious” designation for obediently sitting through weekly parades over the summer. That’s likely a welcome change from his predecessor, Chesty XV, who caused so much trouble that Del Toro officially pardoned the dog at its retirement ceremony, Military Times reported.

Before the promotion, Marine Barracks commanding officer Col. Robert Sucher set the tone with a few “dad jokes.”

“Chesty was talking to us before we came in here today,” Sucher said. “It was really cold this morning. He said he didn’t want to be outside anymore. … He said he didn’t want to be a chili dog. … I’m joking. He didn’t say that. Dogs can’t talk. He actually said he wanted to be a pupsicle.”

The Marine Corps mascot has been a succession of English bulldogs for a century, with the first enlisted in 1922. Since 1957, the bulldogs have been named after legendary Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, according to Military Times.

Bulldogs were originally selected as mascots after Marines were called “devil dogs” during World War I, according to the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. DVIDS added that the English bulldog “is a loyal, tenacious and faithful breed, making it the perfect mascot for the United States Marine Corps.”

Chesty XVI, still a puppy, took over for his predecessor, who had risen to the rank of lance corporal, in February.