MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
Just off Guadalcanal Ave. located behind the depot’s recruit chow hall, stands a marble monument dedicated to fallen Devil Dogs who gave their lives to the Corps not in combat, but in companionship.
The 7-foot-tall monument, located near Paige Field here, is surrounded by a hedge and honors the mascots of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. The names James Jolly Plum Duff; Soochow; Duffy’s Limey Grog; Jigger and Duffy are etched into the smooth marble slab – names of the four-legged friends who were selected to earn the prestigious title of depot mascot.
The term Devil Dog or “Teufel Hunden” has been used to describe Marines since World War I because of the ferocious way they fought in battle. German soldiers compared the Marines to the wild and ferocious mountain dogs of Bavarian folklore.
Soon after, a Marine Corps recruiting poster depicted a snarling English bulldog wearing a Marine helmet chasing a dachshund wearing a German helmet. The words “Teufel Hunden German nickname for U.S. Marines” were printed over the image.
Because of the demeanor of the English bulldog breed, the image fit, and the public and Marines began associating the bulldog with the Marine Corps.
However, the bulldog was not the official Marine Corps mascot until 1921 when Marine Corps Commandant Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler purchased an English bulldog named King Bulwark. At the time his name was not considered appropriate for a Marine and would later be changed to Jiggs.
According to museum archives, Jiggs may have been the first mascot of the Corps, but it was James Jolly Plum Duff, also an English bulldog, who in 1939 received the honor of being the first official mascot of MCRD San Diego.
Duff earned the rank of sergeant and served as the depot mascot until his death on May 15, 1945. Before he died, Duff sired an offspring known as Duffy’s Limey Grog who would later replace him as the depot mascot. Duffy’s Limey Grog enlisted on July 24, 1941 at Camp Elliot, Calif., as the mascot for the 2nd Marine Division. After his father’s death, he moved to the depot and later on to recruiting duty with his handler.
While Duffy was still here, a new mascot arrived on the depot in the form of a sad-eyed multi-breed canine with two service stripes. The small dog didn’t quite fit into the normal bulldog as a mascot mold, but Soochow was a battle-proven honorary Marine and by far, one of the most famous mascots ever to reside on the depot.
Soochow began his Marine Corps career in Shangai, China, in 1937 as the mascot of Company B, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, during the unit’s time there. By the time the regiment shipped out to the Philippines in 1941, not too long before World War II, the entire regiment had claimed the small dog as their mascot.
Wherever the Marines went, so did Soochow. He was with them during the siege of Corregidor in the Philippines and was captured with the Marines when the island surrendered on May 6, 1942. Soochow followed his Marines during the Bataan Death March on the Philippine island of Luzon and spent nearly three years in various prisoner-of-war camps until he and 17 Marines were liberated in 1945.
Upon arriving in the United States, Soochow was taken to depot to spend the rest of his life serving as the mascot.
Soochow’s service record, which was found after he was liberated from the POW camp, told of his adventures and the awards he earned, including the Philippine Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal and American Defense Medal.
On October 29, 1946, the depot celebrated Soochow’s ninth birthday and promotion to sergeant with what may have been the only parade to ever honor a mascot. Col. Bert A. Bone, commanding officer, Recruit Training Regiment, presented Soochow with his promotion.
In the end it was not just the role of mascot that earned these Teufel Hunden a spot on the monument, but the way they lived up to the inscription that is carved into the marble over the list of names “…man’s Guardian…man’s Friend, the only creature faithful to the end.”