ROTC cadet walks in historic footsteps

February 22, 2008

Christian Maisel ’08 never met his grandfather, who died months before Christian was born, but the History major has spent years learning everything about World War II D-day silver-star hero Frederick Maisel Jr. Maisel met and interviewed every remaining soldier who was there on D-Day from his grandfathers assault company (part of the 4th Infantry Division). He heard their stories of landing on Normandy, of destroying German artillery, of killing 80 Germans and capturing 50 men.

“It’s one thing to read a book or watch a movie about the war,” says Maisel, an ROTC Army Cadet Captain. “When you hear the vets tell the story, it’s incredible.”

Through their accounts, Maisel was able to retrace his grandfather’s steps, literally. Maisel traveled to Normandy with his father, a military history expert, where they donned WWII uniforms and waded chest-high into the Atlantic Ocean.

“It was humbling to have just a hint of an idea of what he and his men did,” says Maisel.

They located the farm where his grandfather was wounded when an artillery shell blew up next to him, embedding shell fragments into his shoulder and leg. They found the barn, still pockmarked from battle, where he was treated.

Through the years, Maisel and his family have collected enough military materials to fill a gymnaseum. They lecture at schools and veteran organizations. They give battlefield tours and serve as the Honor Guard at funerals. Veterans from across the country send in their personal military effects, and the Maisels hope to open a hands-on learning facility where people can understand how the average American soldier lived during major American conflicts.

“When you hold a fragment from a shell that looks like a lawnmower blade, you get a different feel of history, a better understanding of reality,” says Maisel, who hopes to inspire younger generations to investigate the history of military service within their own families.

Maisel, a member of the National Guard 2nd 110 Field Artillery Alpha Battery, will serve in the Reserves for eight years after graduation, while he teaches history and coaches soccer.

The Maisels encourage the use of their military artifact collection, known as the Maj. Frederick C Maisel Jr. Memorial Military Museum, by faculty and students. It is open to private tours. Call 410-552-9492 or e-mail Maisel at

Watch Maisel’s Youtube video here: