Sgt. Chesty the XII’s six-year tenure as the official mascot of the Barracks came to an end during a retirement ceremony here Friday.
Approximately 100 guests were on hand for the ceremony, which featured the “President’s Own,” The United States Marine Band, “The Commandant’s Own,” The United States Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Silent Drill Platoon. The six-year-old mascot and his successor, Pfc. Chesty the XIII, sat abreast one another on center walk as they were honored by participating Marines.
Chesty the XII, a fawn and white pedigree English bulldog who enlisted in the Marine Corps on March 30, 2002, will spend his years in retirement at home with his caretakers, Gunnery Sgt. Michael Mergen and his wife, Gunnery Sgt. Kristin Mergen, who are both members of the The President’s Own.
During his six-year career, which marks the longest tour in Barracks’ mascot history, Chesty XII made an appearance at every Evening Parade and participated in several other events in the national capitol region, most notably the Marine Band’s “Music in the Schools” series. For his devotion to duty, Chesty XII was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
“After every parade, Chesty XII sat patiently as he was photographed a myriad of times with children and other guests of the Barracks,” said Col. W. Blake Crowe, MBW commanding officer, after presenting the award to Chesty. “We owe him some much deserved compensation time and leave, which he’ll get the chance to burn during the next few months.”
Retirement will mark the first time Chesty XII has taken leave in six years. The break will give him a chance to do some of his favorite things, which include taking naps and playing with small toys and basketballs, according to Gunnery Sgt. Michael Mergen.
“He’s a handful,” Mergen said. “Our daughters love to play with him, and they’re glad he’s retiring, because they’ll have more time to spend with him.”
Now that Chesty the XII has been relieved of his duties as the Barracks’ mascot, he can go back to being an ordinary bulldog. However, if the one-year-old Chesty the XIII cannot live up to the standards expected of a Barracks’mascot, Chesty the XII will be called back to duty until a new mascot is found. But for now, he can kick his legs out, chew on his favorite toy and be proud of his service.
“We’re very proud of him,” Mergen said. “He made an excellent mascot.”
As the Marine Band concluded Friday’s ceremony with the performance of the Scottish song, “Auld Lang Syne,” Chesty the XII officially marched off center walk for the last time. While the song goes, “Should old acquaintance be forgot,” rest assured… Chesty the XII’s service to country and Corps will always be remembered.
Good night, Chesty the XII, wherever you are!