Wichita, KS United States
From the start, the corps always seemed to possess a dedicated core of marching members and staff whom were determined to succeed despite the chronic lack of adequate funding. Although it was a late start, the first season the corps managed to field a respectable unit. They purchased a new set of new Getzen Bugles, but drums had to be borrowed from local high schools which resulted in white pearl snares, red sparkle tenors, and blue sparkle bass drums. For uniforms, everyone in the corps was required to buy their own white bucks, black pants and short-sleeve white shirts. To that was added white shakos with red plumes and home made scarlet ascots, cummerbunds and drops. The color guard was actually the Blue Angels, a competitive all girl guard from Newton (a small town about 20 miles north of Wichita). They continued to compete in the competitive guard show earlier in the day as the Blue Angles, and then changed into their red and white uniforms later for the corps show with the Scarlet Lancers. Frank Haddaway was a former snare drummer with Blue Rock and the Air Force Drum & Bugle Corps and was an excellent motivator as well as being a great drummer. Some of the first marching members of this corps continued in the activity for many years and had distinguished careers as drum corps instructors and leaders including drummers Bob Costello, Jim Nevermann, Mike Hoyt, and Dan Spalding, and probably the corps’ most talented first soprano ever, George Naylor.
On August 28th, 1965, the Scarlet Lancers performed the halftime show for an exhibition pro football game held at Wichita State University between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. The packed stadium was most likely the corps’ largest audience during its six year history.
During the first summer the corps had already marched in several local parades. Civic events, parades, and ribbon cutting ceremonies became an important part of the corps schedule throughout the years. The corps often participated in events such as the opening of local shopping centers and public buildings, it paraded for festivals and picnics in small towns all around southern Kansas, it played for comedian Milton Berle as he arrived at the Wichita airport (mentioned in TV Guide), they performed for the 1969 Kansas Governor’s Inaugural Ceremonies, and numerous other events. In 1968 the corps performed on several occasions in a fund drive to help pay the medical expenses of a 13 year old paperboy Norman George, who was the victim of a hit and run driver. The original benefit show had actually lost money so the American Legion Post and the Scarlet Lancers stepped in to help out and raised several thousand dollars.
After the success of the first season, it was decided that the Scarlet Lancers’ goal for 1966 would be to compete in the American Legion Nationals in Washington, D.C. The new Ludwig drums arrived, and new uniforms were purchased (white silk blouses to replace the white shirts and black pants with a red stripe.) An extensive fund drive was implemented to raise the funds to take the long trip. The corps was invited by Kansas’ own Miss America Deborah Bryant to be her official escort in the American Legion Parade. With enormous effort and the help of a local radio station the corps managed to raise enough funds to take the trip. This was an exciting and memorable trip. It included the long hot parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, the preliminary competition, the visit to the Capitol, eating in the same cafeteria with the Cavaliers, attending the finals competition, and staying at the Fairfax Hotel. Above all, corps members were able to see national caliber drum corps for the first time. Unfortunately, the corps performed poorly in preliminary competition. The exact placement was never revealed to the corps members, but rumor had it that the corps was second to last of about 70 “A” corps. In fact, the earlier Kansas competitions had not gone nearly as well as expected, with the corps again placing 4th in the state competition, this time behind the all girl Enid Legionairs as well as the Sky Ryders and the State Champion Argonne Rebels. The trip to American Legion Nationals turned out to be the one and only time that the Scarlet Lancers (until it merged into the Continental Ambassadors in 1971) ever competed in a contest of national importance.
High hopes for 1967 were dashed when the corps manager, Russell Kenyon, was voted out of office by the board of directors. Mr. Kenyon promptly decided to begin another Wichita drum & bugle corps, the Phantoms, and some of the most talented members left the Scarlet Lancers in order to march with the new corps. As it turned out, the Phantoms were never really competitive with the Lancers over the next 4 years, except for the first contest in 1969, when the Lancers came out woefully under prepared. Nevertheless, the existence of the Phantoms did not help either corps’ as the recruiting pool in Wichita was somewhat limited to begin with.
Frank Haddaway left the corps after the 1967 season. Another Air Force Drum Corps alumni, Larry Guinn, took over the duties as horn instructor and drill instructor and Mike Hoyt became drum instructor. General Manager was now Roger Zackula (the same Roger Zackula who named his daughter Racine after his favorite corps, the Kilties.) Despite growing in numbers and quality, it was still impossible to break out of the perennial 4th place finish at state competition.
Continuing under the overall leadership of Larry Guinn, the 1969 version of the Scarlet Lancers was a huge step forward artistically, but because of a slow start to the season and recruiting problems, especially in brass, they continued in their 4th place position, about 15 points back from the state champs. The professional staff was growing larger and had more experience. Horn instructor was John King (Argonne Rebels), Percussion instructor was Mike Hoyt with Chuck Reece (Sky Ryders), and the drill was written by Paul Litteau of the Cavaliers. The 17 person percussion line expanded to include 2 marching timpani and timp-toms. Terry Martin, drum major in 1965 returned to again be the field leader. The corps looked stunning as this was the year they bought new uniforms. They were West Point style with white pants, scarlet jackets, and black shakos with tall black plumes. This was one of the best uniforms ever.
[One note of interest: The Sky Ryders had beaten the Argonne Rebels every contest until this night.]
Everyone in the corps felt that 1970 would be a very fine year and there was much excitement. Mac Smith, a local businessman was now General Manager and the new drill instructor was an extremely charismatic and talented former Argonne Rebel and Vietnam Veteran, Dennis Margheim. John King was bugle instructor and Chuck Reece taught percussion. Heavyweight outsiders were brought in to help: Horn arrangements were commissioned by Larry Kershner of Boston and Mike Duffy from the national champion Casper Troopers, some of the percussion arrangements were done by Larry McCormick of the Cavaliers and the drill was written and overseen by Don Pesceone, who would in the future become the head of the still to be formed DCI. Still, the 81 dedicated members were unable to crack the “4th place curse.” At the American Legion State Contest the corps placed yet again behind the Great Bend Argonne Rebels, Hutchinson Sky Ryders, and the Salina Silver Sabres.
The corps continued practicing over the winter with virtually the same management and staff. In the spring of 1971, the Phantoms and the Scarlet Lancers merged to form the much larger Continental Ambassadors. To members of the Scarlet Lancers it felt as though the merger was just a continuation of the Lancers under a different name. After the first year of the merger, when they marched both uniforms, the corps continued with the scarlet and white West Point uniforms and virtually all of the instructional staff was from the Lancers. This corps went on to compete in national competition and to eventually win the Kansas State Championship. The corps folded shortly thereafter, along with all the other Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska drum and bugle corps who had so tenaciously competed with each other during the 1960s and 1970s. Only the Sky Ryders managed to survive for a time and actually did quite well in DCI competition up until the 1990s.
The Wichita Scarlet Lancers never made much of a mark on drum corps history. It hardly ever competed outside of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska and was quite unknown to the drum corps world. However, to the members who participated in the Lancers, it was an important part of their lives. And many members of the corps went on to teach and lead other drum corps, they changed lives as their own lives had been changed by the chance to be in this remarkable drum & bugle corps, the Scarlet Lancers.
[Submitted by Dan Spalding - July 2007]
Highest Score 67.450
Final show in DCX Archives July 24, 1965 Kansas American Legion State Great Bend KS placed 4 with a score of 53.530
Highest Score 48.800
Final show in DCX Archives August 27, 1966 American Legion National Championships - Prelims Washington DC placed 46 with a score of 48.800
Highest Score 58.000
Final show in DCX Archives July 26, 1969 Kansas American Legion Unknown placed 5 with a score of 45.800
|Member Name||Section||Years Involved|
|Carr, Ken||Soprano and Mellophone||1965 to 1971|
|Carr, Tom||bass baritone||1965|
|Carr, Tom||baritone/french horn||1966 to 1968|
|Ellis, Steven||Baritone - Contra Bass||1967 to 1969|
|Harris, Bill||Horn||1969 to 1970|
|McDonald, Ken||Bass Baritone/ Contra Bass||1967 to 1971|
|McDowell, Dan||Baritone||1969 to 1970|
|Moore, Janice||Mascot/Banner Carrier||1965 to 1967|
|Ortiz, Pam||Color Guard||1969 to 1971|
|Stewart, Don||drumline||1969 to 1970|
|whitford, gary||Soprano, French Horn||1965 to 1969|
CORPS 1 items