News: Bulldog Brigade farewells mascot, welcomes new mascot
Story by Maj. Terence Kelley
EL PASO, Texas - The 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division bid farewell to a retiring soldier and welcomed a new recruit Thursday at the brigade’s headquarters on Fort Bliss.
Arrivals and departures are business as usual in the Army, but these two were unique: both are American bulldogs.
Sgt. 1st Class Gunner D. Chester V has been the brigade’s mascot since 2005, when the brigade was stationed at Fort Riley, Kan. Shortly after the brigade, known as the Bulldog Brigade, activated at Fort Bliss in 2009, Chester V rejoined the formation. As mascot, he attended ceremonies, brigade runs and other events, and was a particular favorite with soldiers’ children.
Now more than eight years old, Chester is retiring and will settle with his long-time handler, Staff Sgt. Gregory S. Davis. Chester V will accompany Davis to Fort Jackson, S.C., where Davis is transferring. Chester V will spend his retirement playing with Davis’ children, aged 2, 5 and 8.
Assuming duties as brigade mascot is Gunner D. Chester VI, a six-week old Bulldog puppy. Chester VI is the gift of 1st Lt. Nicholas K. Mitchell, an engineer platoon leader with 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. “I think it’s a real honor, that’s why I donated him,” said Mitchell. “Not too many units have mascots, and I think it’s cool that he’ll be the brigade’s mascot.”
Col. Mark H. Landes, 3rd Brigade commander, hosted a brief ceremony recognizing both mascots. Landes presented Chester V an Army Commendation Medal. Chester V then put his paw print on the standard Army retirement paperwork.
Following Chester V’s retirement, Landes administered the oath of enlistment to Chester VI while Mitchell held up the puppy’s right paw.
Although beloved throughout the unit, which recently returned from Afghanistan, Maj. Nicolas O. Melin, brigade executive officer, noted that Chester V has had some difficulties as a soldier. Soldiers are expected to maintain strict weight standards, and Chester V had been notoriously overweight. In recent months, Davis held Chester V to a weight-loss regimen that helped the bulldog shed 30 pounds.
Melin also noted that Chester V’s fondness for hamburgers and chicken has caused him disciplinary troubles. After his retirement was announced on Facebook, a former member of the brigade alleged that Chester V stole an entire box of Popeye’s chicken while the soldier was distracted by a phone call. Chester V declined to comment, and the individual could not be reached prior to press time.
Chester V even declined to stand when Landes awarded his medal, despite Davis’ repeated efforts to entice the bulldog on his feet. Traditionally, soldiers stand to attention and salute in such circumstances. Despite the breach of etiquette, Landes proceeded with Chester’s retirement, foregoing any disciplinary action.
Chester VI is the offspring of Mitchell’s two American bulldogs, Romo and Riley. This is their first litter of pups. Mitchell’s parents bred dogs, which sparked his interest in breeding. He’s had Romo for five years, and obtained Riley when he came to Fort Bliss in 2009. Chester VI will stay with Mitchell for the next several weeks until he is fully weaned. Landes will then appoint a full time handler from the brigade’s small cadre of working dog handlers.