York Musicians among Those Who Shocked Staid British
York County USAF Drum and Bugle Corps members. Center front to back: KB Oiler, Ray Myers, John Ruth, Kenny Yohe, Bob Reisinger. Drums, left to right: Nevin Wise, Rod Burg, Tom Gibbs, Dick Flinchbaugh, Church Strausbaugh, Bob Zarfoss.
The U.S. Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps members were lauded for their musical skills as they travelled the world from 1950 to 1963, representing our country at world’s fairs, bowl games, sporting events and many other venues.
In the mid-1950s, there seemed to be an exceptional number of York Countians represented in that band, which had a total of about 60 members. One of the musicians, KB Oiler, recently shared the above photos and accompanying information with the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives.
The USAF Drum and Bugle Corps certainly got a lot of attention in the British press when they jazzed up their performance on London’s famous Horse Guards Parade grounds.
See below for some of those reports as quoted in an unidentified August 1958 newspaper:
“Cheers broke out among the huge crowd as the AF musicians marched and countermarched to ‘Cindy Cindy,’ ‘Get Me to the Church on Time,’ ‘Bloody Mary,’ ‘Cockeyed Optimist’ and ‘Mambo Jambo.'” The crowd loved it–so much so, that by the hundreds they marched back with the AF musicians to nearby Wellington Barracks.”
“‘Jive Parade Shocks Guards,’ complained the Daily Sketch.”
“The Daily Mirror quoted Lt. Col. Guy Hart, a British spokesman, as saying: ‘I think there was a certain amount of apprehension in the War Office about this. They were afraid there might be too much jiving. But the Americans were dignified–in their own kind of way.'”
“The Daily Mail quoted British Lt. Gen. Sir Reginald Denning as saying: ‘I found it quite dignified. Not for our Army to copy though, you know.'”
“The staid Daily Telegraph commented: ‘When the rhythm of ‘Mambo Jambo’ reached its peak, every man gave a yell of ‘Hi.’ Some of their gyrations, though precise and skillful were more reminiscent of a Broadway chorus than a parade ground.'”
“Pipe Major Robert Crabb, of the Scots Guards … said ‘I thought they were brilliant. But they have their ways and we have ours. It’s not the kind of thing for us–but it’s all in the cause of NATO.” (The article notes that few knew that T Sgt Ronald Cloud, the USAF drum major, had himself emigrated from Scotland 26 years before.)