MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- He ceremoniously marches out from behind the bleachers until he reaches his mark on the Peatross Parade Deck in front of a large crowd of families. At 55 pounds and 1-and-a-half feet, his rugged demeanor and stocky frame are anything but handsome, but he does not seem to care. He represents the Marine Corps, and he is just proud to be a Marine.
His name is Lance Cpl. Mac and he is the Depot mascot - an English Bulldog.
Lance Cpl. Mac, who has been the Depot mascot since September 2002, continues to carry on the proud tradition of his predecessors. The English Bulldog has been associated with the Marine Corps since World War I, when a recruiting poster depicted a snarling English Bulldog wearing a Marine helmet. Ever since, the English bulldog has served as an icon for Marines as they epitomize their unwavering tenacity and fighting spirit.
However, not all of Parris Island's mascots have been English Bulldogs - various dog breeds have had the distinction of representing the Depot.
The first Depot mascot was Mike, an Irish Terrier, who served from 1915 to 1916, according to Parris Island Museum records. Mike was born in 1905 and served with Marines in Cuba, Annapolis, Md., and Veracruz, Mexico, before being "stationed" here at Parris Island. Records stated Mike became ill and died in 1916.
Mike "specialized in chasing rabbits and fire engines, while defending his terrain at all costs," wrote Eugene Alvarez, Ph.D., in a 1984 issue of Leatherneck Magazine. "When he died in 1916, the Marines took up a collection for their faithful dog's gravestone."
That gravestone can still be found here at the Depot mascot graveyard across from Quarters One, where numerous four-legged devil dogs have been laid to rest, including Klinker, Hashmark, Iron Mike, Lord D. "Chesty" Chesterfield and Jackson, a poodle that belonged to Maj. Gen. Robert Haebel, who served on Parris Island in 1968.
Another mascot was Duke, a Great Dane, who belonged to Maj. Gen. Clayton B. Vogel, who commanded the Depot from 1944 to 1946, according to museum records.
Taking on the duties of Depot mascot is no cake walk. In order to become one of the few, they first have to go through 13 weeks of "boot camp."
"They actually go through boot camp training for three months too," explained Cpl. Lykyteng Lysongtseng, Mac's primary handler, who added Mac was specially chosen from a kennel in Texas. "They pick up with one of the platoons and go with that platoon throughout the whole training [cycle]. As long as Mac's present, it's considered training."
Once they successfully complete recruit training, they have earned the title and are ready to take on the rigors of being a mascot.
Lance Cpl. Mac's duties include going to Morning Colors and Graduation ceremonies and greeting families who visit on Family Day Thursdays.
"Families love him," said Lysongtseng. "They love the fact that he's a real housebroken dog. He's real friendly with the kids and everyone, so families love him."
Mac also boosts the morale for recruits in Medical Rehabilitation Platoon and Physical Conditioning Platoon - recruits who are not currently assigned to a training platoon, according to Lysongtseng.
"He has an impact as a morale booster for recruits," he said. "I often do trips over to MRP and PCP where the recruits are, and they are down in the dumps,[because] they are not in training. So whenever I bring Mac over there, it gives a morale boost."
Like any other Marine, Depot mascots have to uphold the Core Values of honor, courage and commitment. They even receive counselings in their "service record book" for infractions that might occur.
Thor - God of Thunder, a former Depot mascot who served in the 1980s, was counseled for "unsat hygiene habits after caught urinating on a government vehicle," according to his SRB.
Some time later though, he was commended for helping raise over $2,000 for March of Dimes America, according to his SRB.
Thor climbed the ranks to corporal and went on to receive the Good Conduct Medal for good behavior from 1983-1984.
As far as Lysongtseng knows, Mac does not have any adverse paper work, and he rates to wear the National Defense ribbon and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
"[Mac's] roles as Depot Mascot is to boost morale for the recruits, commemorate and honor our tradition as devil dogs," said Lysongtseng. "It is an important part of the Marine Corps because as Marines, we are tradition oriented. As the mascot, Mac carries on the torch of our proud tradition."
Mac earned the title just like any other Marine - the only difference is he is unable to hold an M-16A2 service rifle, and when he marches he does not keep in step with everybody else.