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The best boy in the Marine Corps, Chesty XV, is living the good life
I don't always drop everything to spend a few hours with a short, squat Marine, but when I do, you can bet it's for Chesty.
Chesty XV, the one-and-a-half year old English Bulldog who serves as the Marine Corps mascot, is not just some ornamental figure. He puts in the work, especially in the summertime when he participates in parades conducted at Marine Barracks Washington on Friday nights.
Sure, the Commandant, or any number of high-ranking officers might be present — but the real show-stopper is Chesty, who was recently promoted to lance corporal. (That's right, there are real human Marines out there who are outranked by this chunky pup.)
The wrinkly, stout, quicker-than-he-looks mascot is living the good life. He typically starts work on Thursdays to prepare for Friday's parade, and otherwise does, well, what dogs do. He also has a team of seven people ready to "make him look good," including a tailor for his uniform, one of his handlers Marine Sgt. Dhilexa DeJesus told me on Friday as I shadowed Chesty on his normal Friday morning routine.
While we waited in an air-conditioned space for the parade rehearsal to start, Chesty's handlers took out a cooling pad that he immediately plopped onto. They filled up some water for him, which he quickly gulped down. Occasionally he'd bark as we talked — half reminding us who the real focus of attention was, half signaling he wanted more treats.
He usually got them — it's almost impossible to say no to that face.
When the rehearsal started, Chesty waited with his handler, Marine Cpl. James Bourgeois, until it was his turn to come out. He came down the center walk, tongue out; he was met with applause from his fellow Marines.
"Ladies and gentleman," the parade announcer said during the rehearsal. "We are proud to introduce the official mascot of Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., Lance Cpl. Chesty XV. A pedigree English bulldog, Lance Cpl. Chesty XV enlisted in the Marine Corps on 19 March, 2018, and completed recruit training on 5 July 2018."
When they got to their marker, Bourgeois said under his breath to the dog, "Chesty, sit." Almost as if Chesty knew this was just a rehearsal, he continued to stand and glance around at the onlookers.
"Chesty," Bourgeois said again, as the announcer gave Chesty's introduction. "Sit."
DeJesus later joked that sometimes, Chesty has "selective hearing."
Chesty is a welcomed presence around the barracks; almost everyone who saw him on Friday made a point to greet him with a "hey bubba," or "how ya doin' big boy," partnered with a head scratch and pat. And DeJesus told me that when he was a puppy, he got some special attention from one of his favorite people — Mrs. D'Arcy Neller, wife of former Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. Robert Neller.
"He was, like, obsessed with her," DeJesus laughed. "Whenever they would host a parade, he would try to yank me to get closer to her because she'd always give him treats, so he would always try to go up to her and jump on her, and I'm like, 'You need to behave, you're in public!'"
He's smarter than his predecessor, Bourgeois said, because he knows how to get what he wants.
With Chesty XV, you have to be on your toes in a way you didn't with Chesty XIV. For example, last year, Bourgeois took Chesty up to Capitol Hill to tour the senate and meet with some lawmakers. It was time to leave and get back in their van, but there was one problem: Chesty really does not like vans.
"He hates vans, he will not get into a van. You have to physically pick him up and put him in the van," he said. "And I was in my blues outside by all these senators and politicians, chasing him around a field to get him in the van."
DeJesus said she's also had to carry him before to get him into a van. "He can be a bit of a diva," she laughed.
"It's his world," as Bourgeois put it. "We're just living in it."
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.