Semper Fi<i>do</i>

David Martin is National Security Correspondent for CBS News.
(Dept. of Defense)
It would be easy to watch tonight's story on the Marine Corps mascot and think it's a lot of foolishness.

I mean, really, does a dog need a service record complete with all his merits … and demerits (he once ate a Marine's hat). But it shows the lengths the Marines will go to in order to cultivate their public image.

Chesty is an English bulldog – those pug noses and jutting lower jaw are bred to make them better able to hold on once they sink their teeth in – and he's named after Chesty Puller, the most decorated Marine in history. He is, in other words, the perfect symbol of the Marine Corps.

The Chesty in our story is the 12th in a line of Chestys, and when he retires after this Friday night's parade, he will be replaced by Chesty XIII.

The parade is a whole other story about the Marine Corps' image. It's held ever Friday night during warm weather in honor of some VIP and open to the public. Each summer thousands of tourists watch the Marine Corps silent drill team perform – another perfect Marine symbol, this time of precision and discipline. It's not by accident that through the worst of the Iraq War the Marines never seemed to have trouble finding enough recruits.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.