Retired Citadel mascot, General, brought joy to thousands
Dedication of The Citadel Bulldog Memorial planned for March 14
The Citadel lost an important member of the family this week. Retired bulldog mascot, General Thomas Curtis Metsker*, passed away in the arms of his caretaker on Feb. 26, late in the evening. He was born June 18, 2003 and was 11 years old.
General served the college faithfully as it’s mascot from 2003 – 2013, with his co-mascot Boo IX by his side. The pair formally retired in the fall of 2013 at a ceremony held during one of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets military dress parades. At that time, two new bulldogs who had been raised and trained with General almost since their birth, took over the official duties.
"General was a great ambassador for The Citadel whether it was with the cadets, with fans at the hundreds of events he attended in a decade, but also for the organizations for which he helped raise funds,” said Mike Groshon, assistant athletics director for facilities and caretaker of the bulldogs. “And, he was my best friend.”
General lived in a house on campus with Groshon, Boo IX, and the newest mascots General Robert P. Carson (G2) and Boo X.
“Everyone on campus looks forward to seeing them. It’s almost impossible to just walk by and not pet them,” said Logan Hester, Regimental Public Affairs Officer. “Cadets loved watching General being driven around in his personal golf cart and seeing him at games. They are an important part of the culture here.”
The Citadel began using bulldogs that belonged to alumni as the mascots starting as far back as 1928. It wasn’t until the Class of 2003 created the mascot program and raised $1,000 toward the program's startup that the college actually owned and cared for its mascots full time. A mascot hadn’t actually lived on campus since the 1950’s. Private funds and donations provide sole support for the mascot program and Cadets volunteer to work on the mascot detail.
“Our class recognized the value of the mascots to the morale of the corps as well as the joy they brought to alumni, fans and the Charleston community. The bulldogs are a symbol of strength for The Citadel but they are also gentle, approachable animals,” said Al Buddin, Citadel Class of 2003 and assistant business manager for the colleges Athletics Department. “General is definitely going to be missed.”
Since General joined the college, he, Boo IX and the new mascots have helped raise more than $23,000 for the college and for charities such as the ASPCA and a bulldog rescue organization. The mascots participate in athletic events, parades, and community service events to help raise money for animal rescue organizations.
General was donated by the late Hazel Groshon of James Island, South Carolina. He was the nephew of UGA V, the former mascot for the University of Georgia. General is also related to the line of bulldog representatives for the United State Marine Corps and Mississippi State University.
General will be remembered with a tribute video at this weekend’s baseball and basketball games and a wreath for General was placed by the big bulldog statue at Johnson Hagood Stadium. General’s ashes will be interred along with those of four mascots from the Boo lineage during the dedication of The Citadel Bulldog Memorial. The unveiling of the new memorial had already been planned for 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 14 at the stadium. The parade of bulldogs during the spring football game that will compete in the Beautiful Bulldog Contest will also be dedicated to General.
Past mascots include:
- Mascot Mike, 1928-1930
- Mascot Mike II, 1930-1934
- Mascot Duke, 1937-1939
- Mascot Sonny Sue, 1939-1946
- Mascots Suzie and Jake, 1947-1948
- Mascot Joker, 1949-1951
- Mascot Plebe, 1952-1956
- Mascot Plebe II, 1957
- Mascot Plebe III, 1958-1961
- Mascot Plebe IV, 1962-1963
- Mascot Boo, 1964-1971
- Mascot Boo II, 1972-1973
- Mascot Boo III, 1974-1975
- Mascot Boo IV, 1975
- Mascot Colonel Ruff, 1977-1985
- Mascots Colonel Ruff and Boo V, 1985-1989
- Mascots Colonel Ruff and Patrick, 1990
- Mascot Boo VI, 1991-1995
- Mascot Boo VII, 1996-2001
- Mascot Boo VIII, 2001-2003
- Mascots General and Boo IX, 2003 - 2013
- Mascots General Robert P. Carson (G2) and Boo X, 2013 – present
*Captain Thomas Curtis Metsker graduated from The Citadel in 1961. During the Vietnam War, he was in the battalion that led the first search and destroy mission ever to be conducted using airmobile (helicopter) warfare tactics. Metsker, who was wounded in the shoulder, was shot and killed when he gave up his seat on a helicopter to another soldier who was more seriously wounded.
To see rare photos of the college’s oldest bulldogs, click here.