By Jack Merritt and Emmett Siegel
Although the new field at B-CC is referred to as “The Guck” by the majority of B-CC students, many students are unaware of the great accomplishments of John William “Bill” Guckeyson, one of the most decorated students ever to attend B-CC. Guckeyson captained the basketball and soccer teams and set numerous track and field records before graduating from B-CC in 1933.
He then attended the University of Maryland on a football scholarship, despite not playing the sport in high school. An athletic and civic hero, Bill still stands as the only Baron ever to be drafted by the National Football League, a sixth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1937. He turned down this offer to enroll in the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. While serving as class president, Bill picked up soccer (and became an All-American) before graduating as an officer and turning down another offer to play Major League Baseball for the Washington Senators.
Guckeyson was deployed to fly his P-47 Thunderbolt (“Contrary Mary”), and ultimately a newer F-51 Mustang in World War II as a member of the Air Force. Unfortunately, he never returned to his hometown of Chevy Chase. On May 21st, 1944, his fighter plane was shot down over the small northeast city of Stendal, Germany.
There are several memorials in his honor in addition to B-CC’s stadium, as he was inducted into the University of Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982, in which the top male student-athlete at the school is given an award in Guckeyse’s name.
Bill Guckeyson was not only a prolific athlete in a variety of sports, but he also turned down professional opportunities to serve his country and fight for fundamental freedoms overseas. Guckeyson will forever be remembered as one of the greatest role models in the history of this country, as a fellow pilot in the squadron wrote to Guckeyson’s fiance, Mary Petticrew, “everyone looked up to him.”
He was a man of the people and was greatly admired and respected by those he crossed paths with. When he would walk through the villages he often visited, the children would walk along with him, holding hands, and laughing at whatever Bill had to tell them. Guckeyson should be remembered for his astounding integrity, heroism, and spirit, and as a role model we can all look up to.