Other Names:Imperials of St. Patricks; merger of Imperials of St. Patricks and Thunderbolts (The Thing); Pioneer II

Milwaukee, WI United States
Founded: 1961

Inactive Junior
Open Class
1070 (Repertoire not available)  
1961 Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (The Prisoner's Hope) * No Other Love (from Me And Juliet) * Selections from Gone with the Wind  
1962 Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (The Prisoner's Hope) * No Other Love (from Me And Juliet) * Selections from Gone with the Wind  
1963 (Repertoire not available)  
1964 (Repertoire not available)  
1965 Imperial Irish March * Peg o' My Heart * On the Alert * Rain Rain Polka * Alexander's Ragtime Band * Finlandia * That's All  
1966 When Irish Eyes Are Smiling * Irish Washerwoman (from Irish Suite) * Peg o' My Heart * Armed Forces Medley * My Buddy * Alabama Jubilee * Rain Rain Polka * No Other Love (from Me And Juliet) * That's All  
1967 New World Symphony * Alabama Jubilee * Kerry Dance * Armed Forces Theme * My Buddy * Greensleeves  
1968 Semper Fidelis * Kerry Dance * New World Symphony * Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody * All the Things You Are * Greensleeves  
1969 Swanee * McNamara's Band * My Buddy * Scarborough Fair * Classical Gas * All the Things You Are * Greensleeves * When Irish Eyes Are Smiling  
1970 Ben Hur * John F. Kennedy March * Stars and Stripes Forever * Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (from On Your Toes) * Romeo and Juliet * Lord's Prayer  
1971 Ben Hur * Clancy Lowered the Boom * Stars and Stripes Forever * Danny Boy  
1972 Irish Rhapsody * Rule Britannia * I'm a Man * Danny Boy  
1973 26 65.160 Fanfare * Circus March * Rule Britannia * Skyliner * Elijah Rock * Here, There And Everywhere  
1974 22 71.100 Fanfare * Elegy March * Hey Jude * Skyliner * In the Mood * 1812 Overture  
1975 22 72.450 Alexander's Ragtime Band * Temptation * In the Mood * Encore in Jazz * How the West Was Won * Battle Hymn of the Republic  
1976 26 71.200 Alexander's Ragtime Band * Encore in Jazz * My Quiet Thoughts * El Malo * Selections from Cabaret  
1977 34 65.950 Scheherazade * Selections from Cabaret  
1978 204 57.850 Could it be Magic * Pepsi Theme * McDonalds Theme * Boogie Bandstand * New York, New York (from New York New York)  
1979 31 65.950 Circus March * Harrigan * Sheik Of Araby * Give My Regards to Broadway * Try to Remember  
1980 35 53.950 Circus March * Mambo Tambo * They're Playing Our Song * Pippin  
1981 203 60.550 Annie * New York Jump * Walking Papers (from The Act) * Mambo Tambo * Morning Glow (from Pippin)  
1982 205 56.300 Selections from 42nd Street (from 42nd Street) * Morning Glow (from Pippen)  
1983 32 51.450 Alexander's Ragtime Band * Way Down Yonder in New Orleans * I Feel the Earth Move * Waiting for the A Train * Lullaby of Broadway (from 42nd Street)  
1984 39 56.200 Far From Over * All Night Long (All Night) * Shop Around * Waiting for the A Train * La Cage Aux Folles  
1985 Oklahoma (from Oklahoma!) * George M. Cohan Medley * Comedians' Galop * Return of the Spiders * Brian's Song  
1986 315 53.400 Irish Rhapsody * McNamara's Band * The Girl I Left Behind (from Irish Suite) * Reeling and Railing * Kelly the Boy from Killane * When Irish Eyes Are Smiling  
1987 313 57.500 The American Spirit - America (from West Side Story) * When Irish Eyes Are Smiling * America * Stars and Stripes Forever * Thunder March * Manhattan Beach March  
1988 311 69.200 Rhapsody in Blue * Jericho * Carioca * Rockin' Robin * My Old Kentucky Home * Camptown Races * Autumn Leaves * Way Down Yonder in New Orleans  
1989 308 76.100 Up a Lazy River * Go Tell It on the Mountain * Jericho * Carioca * Where is the Love  
1990 303 85.500 (Repertoire not available)  
1991 301 86.000 Irish Festival - a collection of Irish folk songs - (Repertoire not available)  
1992 302 88.700 Jig (from St. Paul's Suite) * Freda * Minstrel Boy * The Rakes of Mallow * Four Scottish Dances  
1993 27 65.500 Garry Owen * Over There * Tramp, Tramp, Tramp * My Bonny Boy * Far and Away  
1994 18 69.600 Voices of the Isle - Four Scottish Dances * The Seduction (from The Year of the Comet) * Garry Owen * Danny Boy  
1995 18 74.700 Shades of the Emerald - Diamond Dance * The Seduction (from The Year of the Comet)Maggie Goes to Scotland * Helicopter Chase (from The Year of the Comet) * The Seduction (from The Year of the Comet) * Cursum Perticio * Storms in Africa * Orinoco Flow  
1996 20 74.100 Celtic Twilight - Highstep * The Journey Home * Scotland the Brave * Garry Owen  
1997 19 76.800 Riverdance - Riverdance * The Heart's Cry (from Riverdance) * Shivna (from Riverdance) * Woman of Sidhe (from Riverdance) * Russian Dervish * American Wake (from Riverdance) * Firedance (from Riverdance) * Home and the Heartland (from Riverdance)  
1998 18 77.200 Irish in your Face - Irish Washerwoman (from Irish Suite) * Irish Tune From County Derry * Irish Rhapsody  
1999 17 75.300 Greensleeves - Flute Concerto Movement III * The Girl I Left Behind (from Irish Suite) * Magh Seola (The Level Plain) * The Cat Rambles to the Child's Saucepan * English Dances 4th Movement * Dargason (from St. Paul's Suite)  
2000 16 77.600 Dances of Brigadoon - Fanfare * McConachy Square (from Brigadoon) * Come To Me (from Brigadoon) * Almost Like Being in Love (from Brigadoon) * The Chase (from Brigadoon)  
2001 18 79.300 Irish in the Civil War... A Quest for Freedom - Main Theme from Gettysburg * Variations on the Theme from Minstrel Boy * Over the Fence (from Gettysburg) * Dawn (from Gettysburg) * Dixie * Battle at Devil's Den (from Gettysburg) * America the Beautiful  
2002 22 73.250 Oliver - Where is Love (from Oliver) * Theme from Oliver * Be Back Soon (from Oliver) * Consider Yourself (from Oliver) * The Robbery (from Oliver) * As Long As He Needs Me (from Oliver) * Who Will Buy (from Oliver)  
2003 23 72.300 Spirit of the Pioneer - The Song of Moses  
2004 24 71.600 Return to Ireland - By Loch & Mountain * Irish Washerwoman (from Irish Suite) * Irish Washerwoman * Lord of the Dance * Believe Me, if All those Endearing Young Charms * Riverdance  
2005 23 71.525 This Place Called Ireland - Our Homeland * The Irish Spirit * Tragic Legacy * Celtic Pride  
2006 23 71.550 Emeraldscapes - Tarantella (from The Blue Room and Other Stories) * Slane  
2007 22 73.325 Fields of Green - First Suite in E-Flat * Dargason (from St. Paul's Suite) * The Rakes of Mallow * Irish Washerwoman (from Irish Suite) * Minstrel Boy * Garry Owen  
2008 20 74.125 Celtic Reflections - First Suite in E-Flat * Lincolnshire Posy (Horkstow Grange) * Celtic Symphony * Richard III * Crown Imperial  
2009 21 75.750 Celtic Trinity - Three Celtic Dances * Into The Raging River  
2010 23 73.950 Corps Prayer - Swing Low, Sweet Chariot * Make His Praise Glorious * The Prayer * Stained Glass * Old Hundredth (the Doxology)  
2011 27 68.400 Celebrate - Four Scottish Dances * Song Without Words, "I'll Love My Love" (from Second Suite in F) * New World Symphony * As Time Goes By (from Casablanca)  
2012 27 66.200 Irish Immigrants: The Hands that Built America - New World Symphony * Recollections of Ireland * I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen * I'm Shipping Up To Boston  
2013 28 69.050 Anam Nua - Celtic for A NEW SPIRIT - Doxology * Awesome God * It Is Well With My Soul * Just a Closer Walk With Thee * When the Saints Go Marching In * The Hymn of Joy * Gary Owen  
2014 30 68.850 JOY! - A Mighty Fortress * We Gather Together * When the Saints Go Marching In * Hallelujah Chorus * Irish Tune From County Derry * Garry Owen  
2015 29 66.175 Exodus: Divide the Sea, Unite the People - Theme from Exodus * Selections from The Ten Commandments * Selections from Man of Steel  
2016 29 68.375 St. Joan of Arc - Voices of the Sky * Lauds (Praise High Day) * Adagio for Strings * The Firebird Suite  
2017 34 65.913 Irish on Broadway: The Music of Les Miserables - At the End of the Day (from Les Miserables) * Master of the House (from Les Miserables) * On My Own f(from Les Miserables) * The Battle (from Les Miserables) * One Day More (from Les Miserables)  
2018 36 64.300 Celtic Dragons! - The Awakening * Taking Flight (from How To Train Your Dragon) * Dragon Fire * Beneath the Earth and Sky  
2019 (Repertoire not available)  
Position 200+ indicates Division II, Position 300+ indicates Division III, Position 400+ indicates Mini Corps.

The Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps & Color Guard is a World Class competitive junior drum and bugle corps based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Although some people date the founding of the corps as that of the Thunderbolts of Cedarburg in 1953, Pioneer does not. The organization claims instead the founding of the Imperials of St. Patrick with the "Luck of the Irish!" in 1961. While the two corps did, in fact, merge in 1973, the elements of the new corps from the Thunderbolts soon returned to independence, leaving only the nucleus from the Imperials, which has continued in an unbroken line through today...

When the corps began, the instructional staff was made up entirely of young men and women from Miwaukee's South Side.who were all also marching members of the Norwood Park Imperials, a corps that had been a finalist at either American Legion or VFW Nationals for the previous five seasons. Therefore, the new corps of youngsters was dubbed the Imperials of Saint Patrick...

Walter Kendon and the Westmont V.F.W. Post were benefactors who donated uniforms for the new corps filled with mostly inexperienced sixth through eighth grade students. The corps bought drums and bugles, and the Imperials began entering Class B and C contests. Used buses were bought, allowing the corps to have its own transportation to shows around Wisconsin and in the surrounding states. In that day of multitudes of corps sponsored by veterans post and church parishes, the Imperials were just one of a dozen or more corps in the Milwaukee area.

As the sixties moved into the seventies, the Imperials' expenses were outgrowing its fundraising ability. Meanwhile, another area corps, the Thunderbolts had money but was having trouble with a shortage of staff and volunteers. In 1972, both corps attended the first Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championship in nearby Whitewater, with the Imperials of St. Patrick finishing19th and the Thunderbolts 28th in the 39 corps field.

In 1973, the Imperials of St. Patrick and the Thunderbolts merged to form a corps with more than 150 members. {A size not all unusual today, but probably only matched in earlier days by the Chicago Royal Airs during the late 1950s.) Both former corps' uniforms were used--- one by the brass, the other by the drum line. Lacking both a sponsor and agreement on a name for the "new" corps, the entity was dubbed "The Thing," and the corps placed 26th of 48 corps at the 1973 DCI World Championships in Whitewater.

An offer of sponsorship from Mr. Jack Dryer of the Pioneer Box and Container Corporation led to the adoption of the name Pioneer in 1974. While there was one, large "A" corps, there were two feeder corps , the Thunderbolt Cadets and the newly formed Pioneer II.

When in 1976, the elements from the Thunderbolts departed the merger to turn the Thunderbolt Cadets into a renewed Cedarburg Thunderbolts, Pioneer claimed the 1961 founding of the Imperials as its beginnings, rejecting the founding of the Thunderbolts twelve years earlier.

In 1978, Pioneers was one of the charter members of Drum Corps Midwest (DCM) which became the premier regional circuit in North America over the next quarter century.

In 1985, when the "A" corps went inactive, Pioneer II began a transition and became Pioneer in 1986. After 15 years as essentially a local corps, Pioneer became a finalist at Drum Corps Midwest (DCM) and the U.S. Open in 1989, and finished in the top ten of DCI's A-60 Division. New Irish military uniforms enhanced the corps’ visual appeal.

The Pioneer captured their first DCM A-60 Championship title in 1990. The next year the corps successfully defended that title, and they also took top honors at the U.S. Open. Pioneer then went on to win the 1991 DCI Class A60 World Championship.

Pioneer moved up to DCI Division II competition in 1992, transitioning smoothly by taking a fourth DCM Championship title, this time in Division II. They continued their winning ways into 1994 by taking yet another DCM Division II title and continued to be undefeated as DCI Division II World Champions.

Despite suffering a serious and expensive vehicle accident in May, 1995, Pioneer took its first full DCI tour with a corps made up of 95 members from 11 states as well as from Holland and Japan. The corps defended their DCM and DCI Division II crowns, in addition to receiving the Spirit of Disney Award that year. They also won the Canadian Open in 1996 and achieved full voting membership in DCI.

Pioneer took the next step in 1997 under the motto "Better Every Day," when they began competing solely in Division I. Just five members short of a full complement of 128 members, the corps climbed to 19th place in the DCI Quarterfinals.

The corps emphasized audience appeal, especially in 1998, by exploiting their niche, the Irish heritage. With a program entitled 'Irish in your Face,' written by a group of East Coast senior corps writers, Pioneer enthused the crowd with its loud brass and large drum line. Adding to the corps heritage, Pioneer introduced new uniforms consisting of khaki pants, a black jacket, and lots of green, orange, and white trim. The corps finished 18th at the DCI Quarterfinals in Orlando, but the crowd’s enthusiasm for the show energized the organization for the challenges that 1999 would bring.

Reminiscent of the Celtic warriors of the 9th and 10th century who roamed in small bands throughout the countryside battling larger forces, the 1999 edition of Pioneer ventured valiantly forth with its smallest corps in several years to compete in Division I for the third consecutive year. Under the direction of William Strube, the small corps of warriors took the field in competition and proved that if you believe in yourself, work hard, and strive to be "Better Every Day," you truly can make dreams come true. Their field of dreams became Madison’s Camp Randall Stadium where the corps of 81 members achieved a spot in DCI Semifinals, placing 17th.

Pioneer’s 16th place finish in 2000 was their best showing ever.

In 2002, Pioneer welcomed marchers from South Africa, sponsored by the Field Band Foundation. The corps finished 22nd in Open Class Quarterfinals. Their 2003 position was 23rd. In 2004, with a program called 'Celtic Impressions,' Pioneer finished 24th in DCI Quarterfinals.

Pioneer is one of the few corps to own and build on its own land. Officially named the Pioneer Musical Youth Center, "Pioneerland" is a 7 acre property in the Milwaukee suburb of Cudahy, Wisconsin that the corps urchased on St. Patrick's Day in 1993. It is the corps' base of operations containing a full drill field, half sized sectional field, offices and work space for corps staff, a garage for the corps' trucks and buses, and a parking lot. The corps' long-range plans calls for adding a facility with practice rooms, a gym, additional office space, and a bingo hall.

"Better Every Day" is a philosophy that has served the Pioneer well for over two decades. Through this philosophy they promote personal growth, teamwork, and acceptance of challenges in a positive manner. When a new member joins the Pioneer, he becomes a part of a team that strives to bring the most out of each member, by doing the very best they can at all times. Every year the corps returns to its roots at St. Patrick's Catholic Church for a rehearsal and concert.

When smoking in public places (Pioneer's bingo games, for example) was banned, the corps' fundraising declined, and Pioneer "tightened its belt" by eliminating many expenses to help make ends meet. Partly as a result, Pioneer fielded a smaller corps; in most years, they have been the smallest corps in World Class. The corps then witnessed diminished scores and lower finishes at the DCI Championships. Despite all that, Pioneer had kept going and striving to be "Better Every Day."

On August 21, 2018, "following several weeks of investigating questions of adherence to acceptable standards of health and safety for all participants, .",  DCI announced that the organization had placed Pioneer "...on suspension from all DCI activities effective Thursday, August 16, 2018." They stated that the action was " response to several issues of concern raised by Pioneer members and staff." and that "DCI will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of Pioneer to determine the corps’ membership and participation status going forward..." and "...will address all issues with Pioneer leadership and lay out terms for possible reinstatement."

On January 10, 2018, the DCI Board of Directors revoked Pioneer's membership. As a result, the corps will no longer be permitted to participate in DCI. It was stated however that, "Should Pioneer make operational and administrative improvements that meet DCI standards, it will be eligible to re-apply for Open Class participation for the 2020 season."

[The Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps & Color Guard; rec.arts.marching.drumcorps, Bryan Jenner, 5/31/95; Drum Corps World (multiple issues); A History of Drum & Bugle Corps. Vol. 2., Steve Vickers, ed.; Halftime Magazine, June 2911; Drum Corps International;]

Members (98)

Member Name Section Years Involved
Ainsworth, Shane Soprano 1998
Ainsworth, Shane Visual Staff 2000 to 2001
Ainsworth, Shane Soprano/Staff 1998 to 2001
Amigoni, Devin Euphonium 2002 to 2003
Bailey, George Trumpet 2014
Beadles, Damon Contra 1996 to 1997
Benline, Tyler Contra 1998
Billock, Matt Soprano 1994 to 1995
Black, Gary Baritone 1995 to 1997
Bretl, Mark Brass - Soprano 1999
Briddell, Matthew Bari/Euph 2001
Brosky, Elizabeth pit 2002
Burton, Benjie Drumline 1996
Burton, Benjie Cymbal Tech/Ast Director 1998 to 2001
Burton, Terry visual staff 2002
Dahlkamp, Brian cymbals 2005
Diessner, Lisa guard 1994
Diessner, lisa guard,/bells 1995
Diver, John Soprano & Mellophone 2000 to 2001
Duzan, Seth Baritone 1998
Elliott, Brandon Soprano 2002
Eshbach, Stephanie mellophone 2001
Gerber, Greg euph 1998 to 2002
Glasscock, Andrew Mellophone 2004
Gonzalez, David Contra 1999
Gonzalez, David Contra 1999
Grimm, Jessica Baritone 2003
Gruszczynski, Paula soprano 77 mellophone 78-81 1977 to 1981
Hassell, Autumn Mellophone 2002
Herod, Scott Soprano 1996 to 1997
Herron (Big Mack), Jason Euphonium 2001
Hofmann, Patrick Soprano 1993 to 1994
Hyatt, Anna pit percussion 1995 to 1998
Kelley, Justin baritone 2005
Kelly, John Mellophone 1999 to 2000
Klawitter, Mike Percussion Instructor 1990 to 1992
Knize, Nick Bass 1 Section Leader 1998 to 2000
Koceja, Bruce Soprano 1972 to 1974
Koegler, Scott Baritone 1988 to 1990
Kogan, Lea Pit 1994 to 1996
Kopplin, Lanah Baritone 2001
Leary, Daniel Brass (bari) 1998
Lindsey, Bobby Soprano "82"-"85" * Staff "89"-"93" 1982 to 1985; 1989 to 1993; 2003
McDaniel, Heather Colorguard 1998 to 2001
McMillan, Aaron Soprano 1997
Nelson, Bethany mellophone1998, soporano1999 1998 to 1999
Nicholson, Kevin Tuba 2016
Normandin (T.K.), Keith Horn Line 1980
O'Connor, Molly Colorguard 1997; 1999 to 2002
Osterhout, Austin Snare 2001 to 2002
Osterhout, Kendra Colorguard 2001 to 2002
Padawan, Joe Soprano 1995 to 1997
Padilla, Israel Sopranos 2001
Pagliaro, Todd contra 1983 to 1984
Peterson, Garth Baritone 2001
Peterson, Garth Euphonium 2002
Powell, James Percussion 1994 to 1998
Rafalowski, Stephen Baritone 2008
Rafalowski, Stephen Baritone/Tuba 2008 to 2013
Rasgaitis, Kelley color guard sabre line 1998 to 1999
Reed, Kevin Soprano 1998
Reilly, Tony Drill Instructor, Program Mgr. 1984 to 1985
Richards, Will Drum Major 2001
Ritacco, Dan soprano 1982 to 1984
Saul, Jade Brass-Baritone 2016; 2018
Saunders, Von Baritone 2000
Seidling, patrick tympani 1982
Seidling, patrick percussion caption head 1991 to 1995
Sevcik, Mike Euphonium 2001 to 2003
Shannon, Derrick Drumline (Bass) 2005
Shannon, Derrick Bass 2005 to 2006
Snow III, Bal Soprano 1997 to 2001
Sperling, Geoffrey Soprano 2004
Stone, Brandis Color Guard 2004
Street, Adam N. Baritone 2001
Strieff, Walter Visual Staff 1995 to 1996
Torres, Josh soprano 2006
Torres, Josh sop 2006
Torres, Josh Sop 2006
Turner, Byron Contra 2005
VanCaster, Scott Soprano 1983
Walton, Lee Lead Soprano/Trumpet 2007 to 2009
Wesson, Dan Cymbals 2008
White, Conrad soprano 2000 to 2001
Wick, Kevin Soprano 2000
Wilga, Alex Soprano 2003
Wilga, Alex Euphonium 2004
Wilga, Alex Drum Major 2005 to 2007
Williams, Stann Drumset 2014
Wilson, Brian Mellophone 2005 to 2007
Wilson, Brian Drum Major 2008 to 2009
Wilson, Melanie front ensemble 2001
Zerhusen, Mike Baritone/Euphonium 1994 to 1998
de Werk, Peter Jan Mellophone 1995 to 1997
de Werk, Peter Jan Visual Tech 1998
sapp, daunte Baritone 2002
stawick, andrew tenors 2003 to 2004
von Behren, David Mellophone 2002- Soprano 2003- Mellophone 200 2002 to 2004

CORPS 21 items


Pioneer Hat from the Bill Ives Collection

Pioneer from the Bill Ives Collection

Pioneer Milwaukee WI-2 from the Bill Ives Collection

2015 Pioneer Exodus from the Chris Maher Collection

2015 Pioneer Exodus - Back from the Chris Maher Collection

2015 Pioneer Exodus - Inside from the Chris Maher Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,BS1-Heart,Shamrock,Music(BCA)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,LP1-CelticCross(RE-0.875x1.5)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection Contributed by Richard Elmquist

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,LP2-BetterEveryDay(RE-0.875)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection Contributed by Richard Elmquist

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,LP3-GreenWagon(DST-0.75x0.5)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection Contributed by Donn Stroh

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,LP4-WhiteWagon(RE-0.75x0.5)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection Contributed by Richard Elmquist

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,Patch1-BetterEveryDayBlack(RE-3.5)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,Patch2-Est1961(RE-2.875x4.875)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,Patch3-BetterEveryDayWhite(RE-3.5)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,Patch4-LightningOverShamrock(eBay)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,Patch5-ThePioneer(RE-3.5x2.5)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,Patch6-ImADrumCorpsFan(RE-3.5x2.5)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,Pin1-Forest(RE-2.25)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,Pin2-Wagon(RE-2.25)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,Pin3-YellowEntertainer(RE-3.0)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection

Pioneer,Milwaukee,WI,Pin4-ForestWhite(RE-2.25)J_U_S from the Richard Elmquist Collection