Marines' bulldog mascot has his day, gets promoted

There were smiles, a smattering of applause and more than a few laughs when Archibald Hummer was called before Col. Gregory Douquet to become the Marine Corps' newest corporal Friday during the morning colors ceremony at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

With his handler, Cpl. Alexander Long, trailing behind, Hummer, an English bulldog and the depot's official mascot, trotted to a spot on the asphalt in front of Barrow Hall and sat politely as Douquet affixed a set of Velcro chevrons to his tailored service uniform.

Douquet, commanding officer of Headquarters and Service Battalion, said Hummer's meritorious promotion was much deserved for all the 3-year-old pooch does as the wrinkly face of the depot.

"Symbolism is very important to the Marine Corps, and one of the key iconic symbols of this depot is Hummer," he said.

Hummer's promotion package -- which included details about his time in service, leadership skills, behavior and his experience with families visiting the depot -- was reviewed and approved by Brig. Gen. James B. Laster, commanding general of Parris Island and the Eastern Recruiting Region. Hummer was promoted to lance corporal in March 2007.

Hummer was a 14-week-old puppy when he became the depot's mascot in April 2006. Like thousands of Marines before him, he walked the yellow footprints into the receiving building and became a recruit.

His training -- primarily housebreaking and obedience -- met every definition of "basic."

Hummer's duties now include attending Emblem Ceremonies on Thursdays and colors and graduations on Fridays.

Douquet said the dog is a big hit when holding court at the Douglas Visitors Center on Family Day.

"Hummer is by far the most popular of any Marine at the depot," Douquet said. "Sometimes Hummer thinks the depot exists for Hummer."

The dog is just one in a long line of mascots at Parris Island that started with Mike, an Irish terrier, the depot's first recorded mascot in 1915. A monument to the dog across from the commanding officer's quarters is the oldest monument on the island.

Though an icon in his own right, Hummer was only a few brown dots of fur from being a different kind of mascot. The dog was purchased by the Corps from the same Valdosta, Ga., breeder who provides the University of Georgia with its "Uga" bulldog mascots.

"The only reason he's not their mascot is because he's got a few brown spots on him and they want their dog to be pure white," Douquet said. "We're happy to have him though. He's a great dog."