Polish Falcon Cadets

Elizabeth, NJ United States
Founded: 1930

Inactive Junior
1972 The Devil at 4 O'Clock * Romeo and Juliet Fantasy * One Fine Morning * Watermelon Man * Sometimes in Winter * Wooden Ships  
1973 Symphonic Dances Mvt III * MacArthur Park * Russian Sailor's Dance (from The Red Poppy) * Theme from Nicholas and Alexandra  
1974 13 76.950 Flag of Stars  
1975 17 74.350 George of the Jungle * Russian Sailor's Dance (from The Red Poppy) * Russian Christmas Music * Flag of Stars  
1976 47 45.900 (Repertoire not available)  
Position 200+ indicates Division II, Position 300+ indicates Division III, Position 400+ indicates Mini Corps.

CORPS Photos

The Polish Falcon Drum and Bugle Corps had its origins in a fife, drum and bugle corps organized more than 70 years ago by the Polish War Veterans of Elizabeth, New Jersey. In February of 1930, at a meeting of the board of directors of Nest #126, Financial Secretary Joseph Socha proposed that a fife, drum and bugle corps be organized. A small group of dedicated members, including Druhs Dr. Warrzynca Urban, Joseph Socha, Ignacy Seget, Stefan Ciurczak, Stephen Iwanek, Frank Rynkiewicz, Stanley Drozdowski, and Karol Lenard exerted tremendous effort in the formation of the new group. They envisioned ways that youth would benefit from supervised recreational and social activities as a way to build character, their future, and their personality.

The new group made its initial appearance in May of 1932 under its first drum major, Steven Poniatowski, at the George Washington Bicentennial Battle Day celebration. Richard Boyle was a flashy eight-year-old baton twirler in that inaugural performance.

The first of a great many trophies was won by the corps in 1933, at the Lions Club Fife, Drum and Bugle Competition at the Warinanco Park Stadium in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

In 1934 the corps participated in the dedication of the Pulaski Skyway, a memorial to the great Polish general who came to the aid of the American people in their fight for freedom.

The young corps performed at the reception of the Polish steamship Pilsudski at the completion of her maiden voyage to New York City in 1935. They became New York state junior champions at West, New York, that year, placing first in the out-of-state classification and second in the Open Class at the Polo Grounds, at a competition sponsored by the N.Y. Journal American.

In 1936 the corps captured the first of its National Falcon Championships in New Haven, Connecticut.

Officials of the government of Poland were welcomed by the corps in 1937 upon the dignitaries’ arrival to dedicate the Polish Pavilion at the New York World's Fair.

In 1938 the corps won the National Falcon Championship in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and started a $10,000 fund drive to finance a trip to Warsaw, Poland, in June of 1939. In September of 1939, Poland was invaded by Germany, beginning World War II.

In 1940, the corps won the National Falcon Championship for the third time, this time in Rochester, New York.

From 1941 through 1947, despite the huge loss of corps membership to the armed services, the group continued to step out as it always had, in a most commendable fashion.

With the appointment of Walter Koziol in January, 1947, the corps went through a period of reorganization. As a result of a modernization of competition rules, the fife section was eliminated, and the corps took on a new form: bugles and drums. As part of the reorganization, the board of directors and members voted to purchase new uniforms in June of 1948.

In the years 1947 through 1950 the corps made numerous public appearances throughout the metropolitan area, winning many prizes and trophies. The corps took its fourth National Falcon Championship in 1950, at Erie, Pennsylvania.

During the next five years, the corps’ activities were many and varied. They participated annually in the Pulaski Day Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City, Memorial Day exercises and Holy Name Parades in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Polish Night Exhibitions at Warinanco Park Stadium. They also made civic appearances in honor of General Kosciuszko at Boxwood Hall and at West Point Academy, all the while garnering six first places and five second-place awards in metropolitan-wide competitions.

In 1963, through the efforts of Nest #126 President John Zamorski and Vice President John Paster, the present corps was organized. John Paster became the director and took on the responsibility of forming the Cadets, a drum and bugle corps. Many members were sons of former drum corps members.

The Cadets appeared at the New York World’s Fair in both 1964 and 1965. They competed in the National Falcon Championship in Chicago in 1964 as well, and placed second in the Wildwood, New Jersey, American Legion Parade Competition in 1965. In 1966, at the Farmingdale Parade, both the corps and color guard were awarded first-place prizes.

In both 1966 and 1967, the Cadets competed in the American Legion Nationals in Washington, D.C. They finished 41st in 1966. In 1967, the Cadets became the Northern New Jersey Firemen’s Parade Champions, and in 1968, they again won the National Falcon Championship, in New Haven, Connecticut.

In February 1967, the Polish Falcon Patriots were organized as a feeder corps to the Cadets. Matthew Chmiel was appointed director, assisted by John O’Brien.

The Cadets began to make a move in 1968. As members of the Garden State Circuit, the Cadets were being noticed. A fan base was building as chants of “White socks make it” started to be heard when the corps set up on the starting line. The group’s nucleus has been together for five years at this point, and things were starting to gel.

1969 was a breakout year as the Cadets vaulted into the top echelon of the Garden State Circuit. There was an influx of a number Polish Falcon Patriots into the Cadets, and the new instructors were determined to take this hungry group of young men to a level they never expected. The effort paid off with a second-place finish at the Garden State Circuit.

1970 was a historic year for the Cadets. Not only did they compete in the Garden State Circuit but they were also invited to a number of open class competitions, marching against such perennial powerhouses as Blessed Sacrament, Garfield Cadets, and Blue Rock. These very respectable results gave the members the inspiration to continue to improve. The Cadets became champions for the first time that year as they won the Garden State Circuit, going undefeated within the circuit.

When the dust settled at the Garden State Championship in 1971, the first-place trophy was again presented to the Polish Falcon Cadets. Being a champion was starting to feel right and natural.

1972 saw the Cadets make the move out of the Garden State Circuit and become an open class competitor. They realized that if they thought they had to work hard to win in the Garden State Circuit, they had an even steeper hill to climb to become contenders at the national level. But the dedication of corps members for the previous nine years made the challenge well worth accepting. The first-place trophies were hard to come by in open class that year, but eyes were opened and the corps accepted the work necessary to reach national prominence.

Many of the older guys had to step away from the corps in 1973, but they left behind a cadre of younger men who had developed the mental toughness and determination to win. With an influx of many members from other corps, the membership swelled to a size larger than anyone imagined. New members, new uniforms, and a new attitude were a powerful combination as the Cadets once again made the drum corps community take notice. Besting the Muchachos, Garfield Cadets, and Blue Rock demonstrated that the corps was one to be reckoned with nationally.

1974 was another milestone year: the corps went coed again. With an influx of new members, the staff and instructors were determined to get the corps into DCI Finals. The challenging book that the corps performed is to this day talked about throughout the drum corps community; the opener of “Flag of Stars” was the group’s signature tune. Friday night’s 13th place finish kept the Cadets out of Finals night, but it was a placement that everyone that year took a lot of pride in.

Knowing that they were that close to making Finals, the corps’ goal was obvious for 1975. Again a signature book was created to make a statement that the corps was capable and had the talent to get them into Finals. The competition that year was stiff as a number of other corps were also making their moves. A strenuous practice schedule prepared the corps for its Prelim performance, but they finished in 17th place.

1976 was a major transition year for the corps since the nucleus had aged out, and the corps struggled to maintain a membership that could compete with the rest of the DCI finalist-caliber corps. 1976 was the last year that the Polish Falcon Cadets from Elizabeth, New Jersey, would compete under that name.

The corps tried to revive itself by merging with the OLPH Ridgemen to become the Falcon-Ridgemen for the 1977 season. Members worked hard to continue the tradition, but declining membership became a major hindrance to maintaining a competitive corps. Despite attempts to keep it alive, the Cadets folded after the 1977 season.

The modern Cadets drum corps took shape in 1963 and went from practicing at the Esso parking lot in the Bayway section of Elizabeth, to performing throughout the country at a national level. The Polish Falcon Cadets made a name for themselves in the drum corps community during their active life. All members who marched in all eras of the corps have nuch to be proud of, and the corps experience molded many men and women into successful professionals who contribute in today’s society. This is an achievement that speaks for itself.

[John Zamorski and Joe Lubas]

Members (23)

Member Name Section Years Involved
Blakely, Doug Lead Soprano 1973 to 1974
BUTLER-GARCIA, DIANE color guard 1974
Connelly Alvarez, Lori Color Guard 1974 to 1975
Czachorowski, Vin Horn Line (Soprano, Mellophone) 1963 to 1971
Debski, Juliana color guard 1972
Gay, Darryl soprano 1976 to 1977
Kain, Vincent Mellophone 1972 to 1973
Koltunowicz, Valentine Soprano Line 1969 to 1971
Konopka, Michael Horn Line 1975
Kraft, George lead soprano 1973 to 1974
Laracuente, Michael mellophone 1975
Larkin, Karen Color Guard 1974 to 1976
Lyskowski, Danny Horn Line, Color Guard, Drum Major 1963 to 1974
Matchen, Irving Rifle Line 1975
Niemiec, John Horn Line, Soprano 1963 to 1969
Sharkey, Jonathon Color Guard, Drum Line 1972 to 1975
Shwed, Wayne Drum Line - Tympani 1964 to 1971
Tabor, Rick Drumline 1969 to 1975
Tyrkala Jr, Walter "Kookie" soprano line 1959 to 1961
Whitehead, William Brass 1976 to 1977
Zamorski, John Horn line/ Rifle 1969 to 1975
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