Vern Acklin Cavaliers

Verona, PA United States
Founded: 1928

Inactive Senior
The corps that became the senior Vern Acklin Cavaliers began as a junior boy scout corps many years earlier. The VFW Kletzley-Egli Post had sponsored a junior bugle and drum corps about 1925, in which John H. Young, Jr. was a drummer. After that corps disbanded, Mr. Young took over the Boy Scout Troop #1 as scoutmaster in January of 1928.

He thought that the troop should have a bugle and drum corps of its own, and he was able to acquire three snare drums and four bugles from the Kletzley-Egli Post. With this meager equipment, he organized the drum corps in January of 1929. George Milliken, a member of the troop committee, gave them another snare drum, and Paul Bealafeld bought the bass drum. Four of the boys bought their own bugles, for a total of eight bugles, four snare drums, and one bass drum.

The small Boy Scout Troop #1 Drum and Bugle Corps made its first public appearance on Memorial Day in 1929 with thirteen members. They needed some help to get ready for that Memorial Day parade, and Mr. Young asked George Milliken to take charge of the drums. Mr. Milliken in turn asked Charlie Acklin for assistance. Mr. Young also asked Jack Rader and Bill Luckock to assist in training the buglers.

Each spring through about 1937, George Milliken and Charlie Acklin worked with the buglers, until Vern Acklin became the instructor. Dale Davis was in charge of the buglers.

The scout uniform was used as the corps uniform until 1938. In that year, the corps' ranks had grown to about 30, and the uniform was changed to white duck trousers, white shirts, and blue and gold neckerchiefs.

When the corps began to attend firemen's parades, they realized that they needed more "thunder" to compete with the other corps that were drowning them out. During the summer of 1938, Mr. Young ran a small street fair which brought in $321.76 with which more equipment could be acquired, including two old drums from the Pioneer Fife and Drum Corps of Pittsburgh.

The group needed a better uniform if they were going to be competitive in parades, so Mr. Young enlisted Gus Peterson, chairman of the troop committee. Mr. Peterson campaigned to raise enough funds by March of 1930 to purchase capes and caps for the corps, at a cost of $343.00. Mr. Peterson also assisted with corps management for several years.

Lois Nellis was the group's first majorette, later followed by Ruth Kauffman. The corps first appeared with capes and majorettes on Memorial Day, 1939.

The Boy Scout Troop #1 Drum and Bugle Corps continued active until the outbreak of World War II, when most of its members left for military service. While the corps was abandoned for the war, Vern Acklin and Mr. Young gathered up the equipment and stored it in Young’s attic. After the boys returned, Mr. Young gave them permission to use the equipment, but he told them they were old enough to run the corps themselves; they did not need his management any longer.

Vern Acklin had agreed to instruct the corps as far as he was able, but he became ill and died in 1946 before he could do anything with it. Mr. Young suggested that the now-senior corps be called the Vern Acklin Memorial Corps in recognition of the work Vern had done in instructing the corps.

Vern had joined the boy scout troop in 1930 and became a member of the drum and bugle corps. He was a drummer until he took over the instruction of the group in 1936 or 1937.

The Vern Acklin Memorial Corps was based in Verona, Pennsylvania. They were sponsored by the Oakmont American Legion Post 600, Verona VFW Post 441, and the volunteer fire department.

The corps’ early colors were maroon and white, later to be changed to green, white, and black. The cavalier-style hats from about 1954 eventually led to an informal name change to the Vern Acklin Cavaliers, and the group competed in both the American Legion and VFW Nationals in the 1950s. Awards included the 1958 VFW Class C State Championships, 1963 American Legion Class C State Championships, and the 1964 VFW Senior State Championships. A long-time director was Paul Dachille.

A corps theme song of several decades' standing was "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White."

The Cavaliers went inactive in about 1976, but held a reunion in 2003 attended by, among others, Vern Acklin's brothers Dale and Ken Acklin, an octogenarian corps alumnus. Other Cavalier alumni were still marching with competitive and alumni corps as of the 2009 season.

[John Gruphofer, Adam McCarrison, Charles M. Acklin; Encyclopedia of Drum and Bugle Corps, 1966]

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The Vern Acklin Memorial Drum and Bugle Corps was organized in 1932 under the sponsorship of the Boy Scouts of America. Up until 1935, the corps was instructed and directed by several different men and in 1935 the leadership was assumed by Vern Acklin. The corps continued to compete as a junior corps until the war years when there were several years during which the corps was inactive. The corps was organized in 1946 as a senior corps and since during the interim Vern Acklin had died, it was thought that it was only fitting and proper that the corps should carry the name of Vern Acklin as a tribute to a man who had done much to build the corps. The corps operates as an independent organization having no sponsorship of any kind. They are financed entirely from the prize money they win and fund raising activities which they conduct. They have steadily grown in stature since the reorganization as a senior corps in 1946, winning many prizes and titles throughout the tri-state district. Among these were the 1947 Allegheny County Firemen’s Championship, the Tri-State Championship of Chester, West Virginia, and the 1949 State Firemen’s Championship. The musical director of the corps is Americo Ricci and the drum instructor is Dr. John Schrenker. [From Verona-Rosedale Kiwanis Festival of Drums souvenir program, June 11, 1954]

Members (10)

Member Name Section Years Involved
Acklin, Chuck Soprano / Melophone 1961 to 1966
Braden, Dave Lead Soprano 1963 to 1973
Dachille, Paul Mellophone 1971 to 1977
Gruphofer, Joe Guard/French horn/baritone 1960 to 1976
Gruphofer, John Fr.Horn/Baritone 1960 to 1976
harviten, tim drum line 1960 to 1972
Heavner, Howard H. Snare Drum 1955 to 1958
Menear, Bob lead soprano 1973
Rimer, Tom snare 1960 to 1975
Schorsch, Paul Snare 1962 to 1965

CORPS 10 items

Vern Acklin Cavaliers

Advance Leader Article Sept. 29, 1971 Contributed by Paul Dachille
Vern Acklin Cavaliers

Cavaliers Blouse 1975-77 Contributed by Paul Dachille
Vern Acklin Cavaliers

Cavaliers Business Card 1970s Contributed by Paul Dachille
Vern Acklin Cavaliers

Cavaliers Overseas Cap 1940s-60s Contributed by Paul Dachille
Vern Acklin Cavaliers

Cavaliers RCA Charter Members 1968 Contributed by Paul Dachille
Vern Acklin Cavaliers

Cavaliers T-shirt 1971-74 Contributed by Paul Dachille
Vern Acklin Cavaliers

Cavaliers T-shirt 1975-77 Contributed by Paul Dachille
Vern Acklin Cavaliers

Corps Jacket Early 1960s Contributed by Paul Dachille
Vern Acklin Cavaliers

PA State Championships 1973 75 76 Contributed by Paul Dachille
Vern Acklin Cavaliers

Soprano Case 1940s-60s Contributed by Paul Dachille

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