Fort Bliss is home to roughly 30,000 soldiers, each with their own story to tell. Members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division are bulldogs. Staff Sergeant Cody Chester is one of them.
“He’s a soldier just like the rest of us,” Private First Class Mitchell Duncan said.
The Army is full of traditions and mascots are one of them. The bulldog’s military history dates back more than 70 years.
“In the early 1940s, the British gave us an English Bulldog as a token of appreciation in World War II,” Command Sergeant Major Michael Oliver said.
The American Bulldog joined the Brigade Summer 2015 as the morale officer. Chester is the 9th mascot to serve.
“He’s a huge part of the brigade,” Oliver said.
Chester participates in Brigade runs and goes to the field. Chester even puts on his dress blue uniform to go to a ball. None of this would be possible without proper training.
When Chester first got to the Brigade, he was 25 pounds overweight. Oliver says the soldiers thinned him out a little bit to keep him in the Army. When it comes to a promotion, Chester’s Division Run is considered his PT. His obedience is considered his Board.
Private First Class Mitchell Duncan, Chester’s handler, said it’s his duty to make sure the bulldog maintains his weight and physical activity.
True to bulldog form, Chester is stubborn.
“Soldiers and bulldog bulldogs are known for their tenacity and their stubbornness,” Duncan said.
The Bulldogs are tankers, members of an Armored Brigade. Oliver says the work the soldiers do can be serious so given the opportunity to laugh, have fun and just have another battle buddy like Chester to deal with on a day-to-day basis is great.
As a morale officer, Chester makes daily rounds and brings joy to the soldiers.
“He loves the attention,” Duncan said. “He eats it alive; getting the affection from hundreds of soldiers every day, he loves it, they love it.”
Chester also teaches lessons that can’t be learned on the battlefield.
“This is one of the jobs where I feel like I’m making a difference. I feel like I make the people’s lives around me better. It’s the greatest job in the world,” Duncan said.
The Army officially only recognizes three living mascots: two mules at West Point and a Wolfhound, part of the 27th Infantry Regiment in Hawaii.