HIST 429F On Display

MD Day poster_intro panel_071615

At the end of October, the University Archives installed a new display of a selection of the posters created by past HIST 429F students in the Portico Room (Room 2109) in McKeldin Library. University Archives staff has taught HIST 429F, whose formal title is Special Topics in History: MAC to Millennium: History of the University of Maryland, each spring semester since 2014 and will welcome a new crop of Terps interested in learning about their alma mater in January 2020.

Each semester, the students are assigned three major projects, an analysis of an historical item, a poster on a UMD historical topic, prepared as a team effort, and a final research paper documenting a year in the life of the university through the eyes of a senior in that graduating class. Sample blog posts prepared as part of the first assignment can be found here on Terrapin Tales by searching the tag “historical item analysis.”

Examples of the posters from these past student cohorts now on display include:

  • Haunted UMD, Spring 2014, Amanda Laughlin, Nicole Main, and Adina Schulman
  • ACC-ya: 61 years of men’s basketball, Spring 2014, Kelsey Knoche, Sapna Khemka, and Brooke Parker
  • Breaking Barriers, Spring 2015, Jenny Hottle, Talia Richman, and Jamie Weissman
  • The Great Fire of 1912, Spring 2015, Dylan French, Christophe Istsweire, and Tyler North
  • Sights on McKeldin Mall, Spring 2017, Samantha Waldenberg, James Wallenmeyer, and Jay Westreich
  • Where Do I Park?, Spring 2017, Eric Segev and Tim Holzberg
  • “There’s Something Happening Here”: The National Guard at the University of Maryland, 1970-1972, Spring 2017, Ian Bucacink, Alan Wierdak, and Adam Levey
  • History of the University of Maryland Student Government Association, Spring 2018, Chris Keosian and Alex Flum
  • A Royal Visit, Spring 2019, Caralyn Anderson and Wes Brown


The Queen's Game Poster_2019

The posters will remain on view in the Portico Room (Room 2109) in McKeldin until summer 2020.

Stop by to enjoy our students’ creativity and expertise. If you are a Terp looking for a spring course, we hope you will be inspired to join us on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4:30 PM to learn more about the history of the University of Maryland. A general description of the course appears below. Hope to see you in class!




            Through an extensive review of primary documents and secondary literature, lectures, and guest presentations, students will gain an overview of the history of the University of Maryland, from its founding as the Maryland Agricultural College in 1856 to the present day.  This class will frequently require you to visit the University of Maryland Archives in Hornbake Library to review primary sources or to examine sources online that the Archives has digitized and is heavily research-based. The majority of the class sessions will consist of two parts. The instructor will lecture and lead discussion on the assigned topic for the week and the required readings during the first half of the class.  The second portion of most weekly sessions will feature a guest speaker who will present his/her/their perspective on the assigned topic for the week; as of mid-September, speakers who have committed to present include Missy Meharg, head field hockey coach, Marilee Lindemann, director of College Park Scholars, Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, Director of The Stamp, and former USM Chancellor Brit Kirwan.

Assignments consist of:

  • Poster creation and presentation—30%. Students will work in groups to create a poster exploring an event or theme in university history which will be presented in class and displayed on Maryland Day.
  • Historical item analysis assignment—15%. Each student will be assigned an item from the University Archives’ collections to analyze by responding to a series of questions and preparing a brief entry for the Archives’ Terrapin Tales blog.
  • Year in the Life of Maryland—35%. The final paper (10-12 pages) will consist of a series of letters written from the perspective of a senior student in an assigned academic year. Research into the events of that academic year will shape the content of the letters.

The remainder of the grade for the class will consist of points awarded for class participation and attendance and successful completion of weekly reading assignments.

Questions about this class may be directed to the instructor: Anne Turkos, University Archivist Emerita, 301-405-9060 or aturkos@umd.edu

Testudo dedication 1


Honoring UMD Veterans

Today, Veterans Day 2019, we honor all members of the University of Maryland community who have served in the armed forces, past and present, but we also wanted to share some special veterans with you.

Roll of Honor


The names of over 200 brave Terps who lost their lives in service to our country are recorded in the Memorial Chapel’s Roll of Honor, which is preserved in the University Archives. You can view the digital copy of this beautiful ledger in University AlbUM.



The university also counts two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, Florent Groberg and Tom Norris, among its alumni.

U.S. Army Captain Groberg, Class of 2006, was honored for his life-saving actions as the commander of a security detachment in Task Force Mountain Warrior in Afghanistan in 2012; you can read his medal citation here. Forty years earlier, Navy Lt. Tom Norris, Class of 1967, led a five-man patrol in Quang Tri Province in Vietnam to rescue two downed American pilots.; you can find his citation and a video about his military career here. The bravery and courage of both men have been recorded in recently published books, 8 Seconds of Courage and Saving Bravo.


Finally, while working on our forthcoming update to the Alumni of Note list included in MAC to Millennium: University of Maryland A to Z, we found a few additional, very special veterans we wanted to highlight:

Robert Sinclair Booth, Class of 1936, was the first University of Maryland student killed in World War II.  He was aboard the USS Arizona when it was attacked and sunk at Pearl Harbor.  The Navy honored Ensign Booth by naming the USS Booth, a destroyer escort vessel, in his memory.

USS Booth in Truk Lagoon, October 27, 1945


Richard Durkee, Class of 1959, was a highly decorated veteran of Army service in World War II and Korea. One of the few survivors of the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, he also was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor, for heroism during an attack near Uijongbu, Korea. You can find more about his military accomplishments in his obituary from the Washington Post.

code girls


Ann White Kurtz, who received her M.A. (1951) and Ph.D. (1956) from Maryland, was an early member of the Navy’s WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services) who worked as a decoder to intercept and read messages sent by the Nazis during World War II and helped to break the code of the Germans’ Enigma machine. A  2018 article published by Kurtz’s undergraduate alma mater, Wellesley College, details some of her wartime experience, and her story is also included in the 2017 book Code Girls by Liza Mundy.

We thank each of the brave men and women from the University of Maryland for their service and honor them this day and always.




New UMD Story Map Unveiled

Today, in partnership with the University of Maryland Libraries’ GIS and Spatial Data center, we debut a new story map entitled “From MAC to UMD: How the University of Maryland became the campus we know today.” This new online resource visually chronicles the development of the UMD campus from its earliest days as the Maryland Agricultural College to the present. Terrapin Tales welcomes Story Map author and guest blogger Caitlin Burke, a former graduate assistant in the GIS and Spatial Data center, to describes her research process and the technology she used to create this exciting new UMD history resource. We hope you enjoy Caitlin’s post and the extensive story map she created.

story map top pageAs someone who works with and creates maps, I know maps can tell various stories. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Maps can do the same, especially looking at maps of the same location from different decades. In this project, I looked at old campus maps starting from when the University of Maryland (UMD) was Maryland Agricultural College (MAC) to tell the story of how the campus changed since its charter in 1856.

The creation of this story map took up much of my summer. My former supervisor, Dr. Kelley O’Neal, suggested I create a map that all of campus could enjoy. In the GIS library, I am known as the “story map person,” and I helped create story maps for the 2018-2019 Prange Collection exhibit and the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein for the English Department. Kelley told me about University Archives’ digitized campus maps, so I thought that I could create a story map that shows how the UMD campus changed from a small, rural, 19th-century agricultural college to a large public university in the 21st century.

When I first started coming up with ideas for the map, I thought that this project might only show a few maps and could be finished quickly, but I realized that there was much more to this project. The University Archives digital repository, University AlbUM, has a TON of old campus maps, old aerial photos, and landscape scenery images that illustrate how the campus has changed over time.

caitlin first map
Map of the University of Maryland campus, 1934.

This story map was going to be bigger than I initially thought. I included so much material, but there was so much more that could have been added. However, the story map focuses on landscape, architectural and some social change. Because there is so much history for UMD, there could probably be a story map created for each decade since 1856.

I used ArcGIS, a geographic information software owned by Esri, to create the UMD story map.  For this project, I used their online platform, ArcGIS Online. UMD has a partnership with Esri, so students and faculty can get access to free ArcGIS accounts. If you’re interested in using this tool, visit the GIS and Spatial Data Center’s website for more information, instruction and tutorials.

With this story map, I wanted to show that our campus is constantly changing. New buildings and old are updated with modern technology and features, and they are made to be more suitable for students and faculty of the modern era. In the map, I cover monumental events that affected the Maryland Agricultural College, the Maryland State College of Agriculture, as the university was known from 1916 to 1920, and the University of Maryland, from 1920 to the present. Some highlights include the Great Fire of 1912, the construction of some most-recognized buildings in the 1950s, and the building boom in the 2000s.

caitlin second image
Maryland Agricultural College campus prior to the fire of 1912.

As I was creating the map, I was interested to learn about UMD’s affiliation with military training. I have always known that there is a large population of students involved in ROTC, but I didn’t know this predated World War II. The Maryland Agricultural College benefitted greatly from the Morrill Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862, that required colleges and universities designated as land grant institutions to have mandatory military training to receive federal funding. ROTC wasn’t even established until World War I! To be honest, I am more interested in art history than military history, but it was fascinating to learn how involved my university is with American history.

As a UMD alum and current graduate student, this story map was very fun to create. I learned so many interesting facts about UMD from University Archives librarians Anne Turkos and Kendall Aughenbaugh that I was surprised I had not ever heard in my five years of attending UMD. Also, I could spend a whole week going through University AlbUM, the Archives’ digital repository. There are so many interesting photos of various events and people that you get lost in wondering what it would have been like to be on campus decades ago. After working on this project, I pay more attention to details on older buildings. As I walk through campus, the old architectural features and characteristics of the older campus buildings stand out to me more. After going through the story map, maybe you will notice them too.

To view the new story map, <click here>.


Testudo II: An Amazing Creature

Champions All
“Champions All” in Hornbake Library

All Terps are familiar with the bronze statues of our mascot Testudo that dot the campus, as well as the brown, furry Testudo who entertains the crowds at athletic and other campus events. Then, of course, there’s also the gaily decorated turtles that remain from the university’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2006 sprinkled here and there, including the UMD Archives’ very own “Champions All” here in Hornbake:

Many members of the campus community even know that the real Testudo, the live diamondback terrapin that was used as the model for the original bronze statue, the one that stands in front of McKeldin Library, has been taxidermied and mounted on a board and resides in the University Archives.

Real Testudo head on

But perhaps the most amazing representation of Testudo was the mobile version known as Testudo II.

mechanical testudo_1968 yearbook
Image of Testudo II from the 1968 Terrapin yearbook.

This crazy creature, constructed in 1965, was the brainchild of the Student Government Association. The Executive Committee was looking for ways to increase school spirit on campus and allocated $3400 from SGA’s annual budget to fund the project. Some members of the campus community initially objected to the cost, deeming the project a waste of money, but student leaders pushed ahead, and Testudo II made his debut at a pep rally and bonfire on December 3, 1965, the night before the annual football game with rival Penn State and the home opener for the men’s basketball team vs. Wake Forest.

Testudo II DBK 12 06 1965_crop
Coverage of Testudo II’s debut from the December 6, 1965, Diamondback.

He made his first appearance on national television the following day at the football game, when he rode around the track inside Byrd Stadium at halftime.

Testudo II was 15 feet long and approximately 6 feet high, and his shell measured 10 feet across. The firm Art Designer’s, Inc., in Arlington, VA, constructed the terrapin, which was water-proof, using a Triumph TR-3 roadster as the base. They chose this vehicle since it was lower to the ground than a Volkswagon Beetle or a Fiat, the original possibilities, and had a better frame and acceleration.

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Following his December 1965 debut, Testudo II continued to appear at local events like Homecoming and even traveled on the road with the Terps, appearing, for example, in the Oyster Bowl parade in Norfolk, VA, in 1968 and the Peach Bowl parade in Atlanta, GA, in 1973.

Mechanical Testudo_1973 Peach Bowl_Betsy Turner
Testudo II in the parade for the December 28, 1973, Peach Bowl.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to determine the fate of this fabulous creation, but we assume he disappeared sometime in the 1970s. If any of our readers know what happened to Testudo II, please let us know at umdarchives@umd.edu, or leave us a comment here on Terrapin Tales.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to re-create this amazing Testudo? Come on, students in the Clark School of Engineering, we challenge you to make this happen! We bet you could even get some support from Maryland Athletics…


#Terps100: This Day In History: April 1, 2002

2002 Final Four program

After coming so close to the dream of a lifetime the year before, the Terps finally made it to the pinnacle of the college basketball world on April 1, 2002, defeating the Indiana Hoosiers, 64-52, to win the national championship. The Terps’ victory, in front of 53,406 fans at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta came, curiously enough, in their 2,002nd game of varsity competition.

The road to the final game put to the Terps to the test, with victories over Siena, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Connecticut, and Kansas, then ranked number two in the country, to reach the championship contest.

The semi-final loss to arch-rival Duke in 2001 still stung, and the Terps came out ready to prove their doubters wrong against Indiana. Setting an up-tempo pace, with 28 possessions in the first 5.5 minutes, the Terps took the lead right from the start, when Maryland center Lonny Baxter hit a lay-up at the 18:58 mark. By halftime, they led by six, 31-25. The Hoosiers closed the gap with tenacious play and finally pulled ahead at the 9:52 mark in the second half, when their star, Jared Jeffries, hit a lay-up to put them in front, 44-42. The lead was short-lived, however. Maryland’s top scorer, Juan Dixon, hit a triple eight seconds later to put the Terps in the lead for good after going scoreless for 20 minutes. Indiana pulled to within one, 47-46, with 8:30 left in the game, but the Terps closed the contest with a 17-6 run to put the Hoosiers away .

2002 - national title_Juan Dixon
Terps’ leading scorer, Juan Dixon

Dixon finished with 18 points, Baxter with 15, and outstanding sophomore Chris Wilcox with 10.  All three were named to the All-Tournament Team, and Dixon was named the Final Four MVP. His incredible senior season also brought him ACC Player of the Year honors and pushed him past Len Bias to become the all-time points leader for the Terps, a record that still stands today. Byron Mouton, Drew Nicholas, Steve Blake, Tahj Holden, and Ryan Randle also contributed valuable minutes and scoring punch to the Terps’ dramatic win.

Head coach Gary Williams became the first alumnus to lead his alma mater to the national championship since Norm Sloane accomplished this feat at NC State in 1974. Following the game, Williams told The Diamondback, “I’ve never done this before, so I am not sure what I am supposed to be like. I’m very happy. It was a thrill, no doubt about it. But I am really tired. I’m just so happy for the players.”

National Champs (1)_team with trophy

As the final horn sounded, the celebration began among Maryland fans around the country, including those who had watched the game in Cole Field House, where the Terps had gone undefeated in the 2001-2002 regular season. Revelers also filled Fraternity Row and downtown College Park to savor the victory. The university welcomed the team back to Cole the following day with a huge rally, and cheers rang from the rafters over and over again as each of the players and coaches spoke and posed with the championship trophy.

2002 basketball men NCAA team photo with trophy-02

This landmark victory in program history is one that Terrapin fans will never forget!

Front cover of Diamondback 2002 full page


This is the eighth and final entry in a series of blog posts the University Archives has featured as part of the celebration of the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball, 2018-2019, with our colleagues in Intercollegiate Athletics. Visit the #Terps100 website for more information about and to participate in the celebration.

Search Terrapin Tales for additional #Terps100 features on landmark days in Maryland men’s basketball history published earlier in the season.


#Terps100: This Day in History: March 11, 1984

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of Hall of Fame Coach Lefty Driesell’s stellar career was the Terps’ March 11, 1984, ACC Tournament championship victory over arch-rival Duke, 74-62.

dbk_031984_acc champs_p1

The Terps were led by their star Len Bias, who scored 26 points. Bias, named the tournament’s most outstanding player, had come to Greensboro, NC, with a bit of chip on his shoulder. According to the Washington Post, he felt he had something to prove.

“I didn’t get named to any of the all-ACC teams, first- or second-team,’ Bias said. “I wanted people to know I could play and that I could do it in the big games.”

Duke opened up a 16-8 lead early in the game, behind 10 points from Blue Devils’ star Johnny Dawkins. The Terps shot 44 percent in the first half, trailing by three, 30-27, at the break, and Bias had six turnovers.

He righted his game in the second half, opening with a dunk to bring the Terps within one of the Blue Devils and pouring in 10 points during a 24-3 Maryland run. His sharp shooting, plus Maryland’s move to zone defense and physical play, shut down Duke. With five minutes left in the game, the Terps were ahead 58-47, and Bias still had two monster dunks left in his arsenal. The first came on a Maryland breakaway in transition when Adrian Branch hit a trailing Bias with an over-the-shoulder pass, which ended with one dribble and a spectacular reverse dunk. Moments later, Keith Gatlin, trapped in a triple-team, hit Bias on the baseline with a pass, which resulted in a magnificent windmill throwdown.

Bias’ heroics led a terrific team effort. Center Ben Coleman finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Guard Adrian Branch chipped in 12 points, 4 assists and 2 steals, and his backcourt mate Keith Gatlin recorded 10 assists, 3 steals, and only 1 turnover in 30 minutes of play. Herman Veal drew 2 key charging fouls when the score was close, rattling the Blue Devils, and led a tough zone defense that shut Duke down in the second half.

high fives 1984

After the final horn sounded, the Terps and their supporters mobbed the floor, and the players attempted to carry Coach Driesell off the floor on their shoulders, celebrating the victory that had eluded Lefty for 15 years at Maryland. Driesell commented “I guess the good Lord just wanted us to win this time. But all of our players played well today, and yes, it is very special to me to have won this thing.”

You can re-live this landmark victory and watch footage of the game at http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/40063 and http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/43122,which has been digitized as part of the UMD Archives’ project to Help Preserve Maryland Basketball History.

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts the University Archives will be featuring as part of the celebration of the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball, 2018-2019, with our colleagues in Intercollegiate Athletics. Visit the #Terps100 website for more information about and to participate in the celebration.

Follow Terrapin Tales throughout the season for additional features on landmark days in Maryland men’s basketball history. Our final post will highlight the Terps’ dramatic national championship win on April 1, 2002.


#Terps 100: This Day In History: March 8, 1958

3.8.58 - 1st acc title

The Terps only captured the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Tournament championship three times before leaving the conference in 2014 for the Big Ten. Coach Bud Millikan led Maryland to the first of the three, on March 8, 1958.

The Terps trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, but stormed back to score 59 in the second half, defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels, 86-74.  Led by sophomore star Charlie McNeil, who shot 80 percent in the championship game, the Terps outlasted the Virginia Cavaliers (70-66) and Duke Blue Devils (71-65) to reach the final and did not disappoint Terrapin fans with their gritty defense and stellar free-throw shooting to beat the defending conference and national champion Heels. This was the first time that a team from outside Tobacco Road had won the conference championship in the young ACC, so this victory was particularly sweet.

dbk-031158_acc champs

Maryland started the game slowly, shooting only 28.1 percent in the first half, and trailed by 7 at the break, 34-27. Carolina’s 1-2-2 zone plus the Terps’ poor shooting seemed destined to send them to defeat until McNeil took over the game following the intermission. His heroics, combined with the stellar play of teammates Nick Davis, Tom Young, and Al Bunge and the 25 foul shots Maryland made in the last 4 minutes of play, as the Heels repeatedly fouled in an attempt to regain the ball, saved the day for the Terps.

Watch clips from the game here.

As conference tournament champions, the Terps were the only team from the ACC to make the NCAA Tournament that year, starting a run that has seen Maryland in the Big Dance 26 times since that landmark bid in 1958, when they made it to the Elite Eight.

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts the University Archives will be featuring as part of the celebration of the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball, 2018-2019, with our colleagues in Intercollegiate Athletics. Visit the #Terps100 website for more information about and to participate in the celebration.

Follow Terrapin Tales throughout the season for additional features on landmark days in Maryland men’s basketball history. Next in line is March 11, commemorating National Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Lefty Driesell’s only ACC Tournament championship.





Happy Valentine’s Day!

Minnie Hill, Class of 1925, had a special piece of advice perfect for Valentine’s Day: ‘A Recipe for Kisses’

To one piece of dark piazza, add a little moonlight. Take for granted two people. Press in two strong ones a small soft hand. Sift lightly two ounces of attraction, one of Romance. Add a large measure of Folly. Stir in a floating ruffle and one or two whispers. Dissolve half a dozen glances in a well of silence. Dust in a small quantity of hesitation, one ounce of resistance, two of yielding. Place the kisses on a flushed cheek or lips. Flavor with a slight scream and set aside to cool. This will succeed in any climate if directions are carefully followed.


Come discover this, and other treasures in Minnie’s scrapbook at University Archives!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A couple in McKeldin Library, 1958. 


#Terps100: This Day in History: January 27, 1979

1.27.79 - terps beat #1 notre dameThe Maryland men’s basketball team has enjoyed a lot of big wins in their 100 seasons on the hardwood, but perhaps none bigger than their 67-66 victory over Notre Dame on January 27, 1979, in front of a sell-out crowd in Cole. The Fighting Irish came to campus ranked No. 1 in the country and riding a seven-game winning streak, while Maryland was unranked and looking for an upset.

The Terps led by as many as 12 during the game, but fell apart in the last 7.5 minutes of the contest, needing some late heroics from stars Larry Gibson and Buck Williams to complement Ernie Graham’s game-high 28 points and eke out the victory. Gibson pulled the Terps to within two, 66-64, sinking two free throws at the 1:26 minute mark. The Irish then passed the ball around until 15 seconds remained (in the days before the institution of the shot clock), and Reggie Jackson fouled Notre Dame’s Stan Wilcox. Wilcox missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Maryland’s Buck Williams grabbed the rebound, one of his 15 on the day. The Terps called time-out with 11 seconds left, then again with 5 seconds remaining to set up the final play.

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Coach Lefty Driesell called for the same set-up that had nearly beaten the No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels only a week earlier. Jackson passed the ball to guard Greg Manning who gave up an open shot to drive to the hoop. Just as he was about to go out of bounds, he flipped the ball back to Larry Gibson who sank a layup and was fouled by the Irish’s Bruce Flowers, who later seemed unconvinced that he had indeed committed the infraction. “If the referee [said] I did, then I guess I did,” he told the Washington Post after game.

Notre Dame called two time-outs in an attempt to ice Gibson, whose free throw hit nothing but net with one second left on the clock.

The Irish called another time-out to set up a last-gasp, half-court shot that fell short, and the celebration was on! Terrapin fans, many of them waving Maryland flags, mobbed the court, and Driesell was mobbed by a huge crowd on the floor of Cole while being interviewed on national television.

Lefty and the press_012779_crop

After the game, Gibson told The Diamondback, “That was definitely one of the biggest shots of my life…I was just trying to concentrate on the rim. But I was thinking about beating the No. 1 team in the country.”

You can re-live this No. 1 upset by watching the four reels of footage from the game in the UMD Archives’ collections, which have been digitized as part of our campaign to Help Preserve Maryland Basketball History:

If you enjoyed viewing this landmark Terps’ victory, please visit go.umd.edu/preservembb and make a gift to support our on-going work to digitize additional footage from 1953 to 2014.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts the University Archives will be featuring as part of the celebration of the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball, 2018-2019, with our colleagues in Intercollegiate Athletics. Visit the #Terps100 website for more information about and to participate in the celebration.

Follow Terrapin Tales throughout the season for additional features on landmark days in Maryland men’s basketball history. Next in line is March 8, the 60th anniversary of the Terps’ first-ever ACC Tournament championship.






#Terps100: Surprise Find: George Simler

As we assembled the all-time roster of University of Maryland men’s basketball players over the summer, we came up with some unlikely finds, some gentlemen who were better known for their achievements later in life than they were for the exploits on the hardwood.

We’ve already told you the stories of Charlie “King Kong” Keller, the only Terp to ever play in baseball’s All Star Game and World Series, and author Munro Leaf, most famous for his beloved work The Story of Ferdinand.

But did you know that we had a future lieutenant general playing for the Terps under head coach H. Burton Shipley in the 1940-1941 season?


George Simler, born in 1921 in Johnstown, PA, entered the University of Maryland in fall 1940 and played freshman football and basketball and ran track for the Terps, but left in June 1941 when he was called to active duty in the Navy.

Two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Diamondback  published a letter he sent to the university community, showing his love for Maryland and how much he missed being on campus:

Nine days later, he enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on December 18, 1941, and  he received his pilot wings on August 5, 1942.

Simler served two combat tours as a pilot in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. He was shot down in July 1944 but successfully evaded capture and returned to the Allied lines two months later. Following the war, he returned to the university serve as a professor of aerospace science and tactics and to complete his education. As he finished out his student days, he rejoined the football team, participating in the Terps’ first-ever post-season bowl game, the Gator Bowl, versus Georgia on January 1, 1948. Five months later, he received his degree in Military Science and was awarded the Sylvester Watch, given to the man who typified the best in Maryland Athletics.

simler on 1947 football team
Terrapin football team, 1947. Simler (#40) is third from right in the second row.

Following graduation, he took on a variety of assignments for the Air Force in the U.S. and overseas, including command of various fighter groups and director of operations of the Seventh Air Force and the Headquarters of the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, even flying several combat missions during that conflict. He also served as vice commander of the United States Air Forces in Europe.

Throughout his 30-year career in the Air Force, General Simler received numerous awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Vietnam Air Gallantry Cross. You can find the text for many of his award citations here.

He was killed in a jet crash at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas on September 9, 1972, shortly before he was to have  been  promoted to  full general and assigned to head the Military Airlift Command.

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Simler played in 14 games as a freshman under head coach H. Burton Shipley, scoring 29 points. While perhaps you wouldn’t characterize as a star on the hardwood, he did make an impact as a freshman baller and is certainly a Terp of whom we can be very proud.