MARINE BARRACKS WASHINGTON — Chesty XVI has been working hard for a promotion.

The Marine has followed orders to sit at seven of Marine Barracks Washington’s parades in 2023, even if he has disobeyed those orders at the other half of the parades, according to his commanding officer, Col. Robert Sucher.

He has maintained his trim build by chasing after shadows, even if he refuses to attend the Marines’ physical fitness test without being coaxed with food.

He has served as the public face of the Marine Corps at the White House, in Congress and at a Naval Academy baseball game, even if attempts to train him to carry the first pitch to home plate had nothing to show for themselves besides several chewed-up baseballs.

Chesty’s dogged efforts finally paid off on Wednesday, when the Marine Corps mascot was promoted to lance corporal after 13 months as a private first class.

“It’s because of his proven discipline,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in remarks at the ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington.

Del Toro personally changed Chesty, who is 2 years old, into a dress-blues onesie bearing the insignia of a lance corporal. At first, the Navy secretary had some difficulty fitting the uniform over the English bulldog’s neck.

“Chesty’s been working out — his neck size has grown,” Del Toro said.

As Chesty took his first few steps as a lance corporal, he shook himself vigorously.

The bulldog now outranked about a quarter of the Marines in attendance at the standing-room-only event, Del Toro observed.

The mascot enlisted in the Marine Corps in February 2022 and was promoted to private first class that December. He wears two medals on his uniform: the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Chesty is in a long line of bulldogs to serve as the official mascot of the service whose members are sometimes referred to as Devil Dogs. The first, Jiggs, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1922 and attained the rank of sergeant major in two years.

Chesty is the 16th Marine mascot to bear the name in honor of the legendary Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller.

Sgt. Scott Rogers, in whose home Chesty resides, said the lance corporal “personifies” the mission of Marine Barracks Washington: to interact with the public and bring joy to people. When Rogers brings Chesty to work, he said, the other Marines’ faces light up.

“Chesty’s going to have a high burden for mentoring and leading his junior Marines going forward, so a lot of responsibility is on Chesty’s shoulders now,” Rogers said.

Outside of work, Chesty — whom Rogers characterized as a “mostly good boy” — likes pizza, belly rubs and playing with the two other dogs in Rogers’ family.

When Marine Corps Times asked Chesty for comment, he gave the microphone a few sniffs.

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.

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