joined the Keesler AFB Blue Knights in January
a snare drummer. I had been a percussionist since grammar school
and was a member of the East High band and orchestra in Rochester,
I got my Drum Corps experience with the Irondequoit, NY Ridge Culver
Department Corps and then went on to play with the
Crusaders until I entered the AF in October 1960.
I was in ATC
Radar Maintenance school (52 weeks) so I
at Keesler for a while. I was chosen to be Drum Major in May of
primarily based on my drum Corps experience.
It was a very exciting time for a young guy and I
had a very good group of men in the Corps. I am sure many of
who were in the Corps did very well in their AF jobs or careers based
the good grounding we had as students and with the extra effort that
required to be in the Corps.
I attended the first “Rope” school and because
were so many different colors of Ropes, I decided to have mine be dark
blue. It looked like a black rope so needless to say there were
“What the hell is a Black Rope?” comments as I went about the base in
Recruiting for the Corps was always interesting.
day an Airman come in to audition for the drum line. When asked
experience he had. He replied, “Last week when I had KP, I was
around drumming with the serving spoons and someone said I should try
for the Corps.”
We were in the
90th Squadron on the Old
my time there. We transitioned from the original WWII barracks
open bay barracks) to renovated ones with two men rooms, very nice
and most welcomed the Central AIR CONDITIONING and HEAT.
During the latter part of my tour, the Base
decided to assign a KAFB Band member to the Corps to help me manage the
day-to-day activities. He was TSgt Alexander Gombos, a trombone
with the band.
TSgt Gombos had been at Keesler for nearly twenty
years as I recall and got us new instruments (bugles and drums) and
other amenities we had not known about or did not have the time to
In addition to the annual trip to Mardis Gras in
Orleans, he had a trip scheduled for Moody AFB in Valdosta, GA.
flew there and back on two C-47s. It was pretty exciting at the time.
He was a great asset to the Corps. Other
events were the Biloxi Firemen’s parade and acting as escorts for the
Hospitality contest in Biloxi.
I attempted to have the Corps come into the
world of drum corps when I became Drum Major, as the accoutrements were
WWII in nature. I eliminated white gloves for drummers, the
and the mace (stick).
I did get a front and center with the Base
after the first Base Parade when I did not use the mace. He
but he won the argument over its use as a historical item and cited
the Service Bands Drum Majors all used one. He was also an O-6
I was an A3C.
The Corps was privileged during the latter part
1961 to get a package of music for AF volunteer drum corps written by
Truman Crawford when he was with the AF Drums Corps at Bolling
I will never forget that.
I did have the honor of discussing this with
Marine Corps Colonel Tru Crawford at DCA finals the year before he
I went on to become a SSgt in Radar Maintenance then cross-trained into
AFOSI as a Special Agent. I retired as a SMSgt after 24 years.
There were many highlights to that career
being Program Manager for the AF TSCM Program, establishing some of the
security requirements for the Shuttle program and, being in Tehran
protective service for Americans before the Shah fell.
I’ve since worked
on the Shuttle Program as a
Specialist and was a Security Manager at Sikorsky Aircraft until my
retirement in 1999. My wife and I are now in Rockledge, FL
the rays. We do travel up North to attend DCA finals each year.