Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot is preparing to welcome its new (and cutest) rookie mascot, a tradition that dates back to 1914.
“Military working dogs have a long history in our organization,” said Parris Island sworn chief officer Bobby Yarbrough. “Everything from battlefield work…to morale and welfare. It is a symbol not only of today’s Marines, but also of past generations.
The pup, a bulldog nicknamed Opha Mae II, is named after the Navy’s first female recruit, Opha Mae Johnson, who enlisted in 1918. Johnson worked in the quartermaster’s office, according to division headquarters. of Marine Corps History and Museums. By the end of World War I, she had achieved the rank of sergeant.
Opha Mae II is the second bulldog mascot named after Johnson, according to reports from Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.
Opha May I began her tenure as the recruit depot mascot in 2017. She was the first female to hold the position after taking over from Cpl. Legend, the depot’s oldest mascot, Parris Island officials previously told the Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette. Opha May will retire to Chicago with her master after five years of service, Yarbrough said.
Bulldogs and Marines
The bulldogs, Yarbrough said, acted as a symbol for the Marines, who were called “devil’s dogs” during the Battle of Belleau Wood in France during World War I.
“The bulldog, I believe, was most representative of that image,” Yarbrough said. “It’s more tradition than real history.”
Today, it’s an annual tradition for Marines to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, the final resting place of Marines killed in action, and “walk down the hill” to drink water at the devil’s dog fountain, he said.
Opha Mae II Mascot Post
Opha Mae II will begin her role as mascot when she graduates on May 6 alongside her master, Pfc. Shannon Morales Canales. She will live in the barracks with her handler, begin her Navy “training” with Oscar Company and be outfitted for a uniform, Yarbrough said. Her duties include boosting morale and attending graduations and community events.
“She likes to go through some of the obstacles and things that other rookies go through,” Yarbrough said. “Just like our mantra, ‘you gotta win the United States Marine title,’ and that’s no different for Opha Mae.”