News From the Top


Our special celebration on February 28th, to honor Cecil, was an outstanding success. 85 people attended dinner and offered their experiences with Dr. Austin. Former students, former teachers, family, and Pioneer Alumni and guests were all generous in their praises of his work. He accompanied some drummers from his Oma Ana African percussion group which lit us all up with enthisiasm, We all robustly joined in singing “You Are My Sunshine” and “Happy Birthday.”

We continued our party with a great family style meal with broasted chicken, Polish sausage, and all the fixings that went along with it. Barbara (Foloran) Syzmanski made a brief creative book of history about Cecil’s accomplisments and activities to help remind him about Milwaukee Tech High School, UW Whitewater UW Milwaukee, and about the many Corps that he both played in and taught. Some of his history includes being an outstanding wrestler at Milwaukee Tech and University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. Cecil earned a Doctor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota, He was a high school principal at Milwaukee North Division High School, He was a Professor at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He also taught many bands, ensembles, and Corps.

Pioneer would like to thank every person in attendance that took the time to show Cecil your appreciation for all he did for you and for your Corps.

A great motivator, a great instructor, a great mentor, and a great friend


cecil gathering 01
Barbara Syzmanski (#190), Robert Neuman (#385), Wally Johnson (#440) & Roman Blenski
cecil gathering 02
Sue Blenski & Margie Risch (Zahn)(#195)
cecil gathering 03
Drum head signed by all!
cecil gathering 04
John Schoenknecht (#444), Friedel Cramer (#1054), Murray Davis & Roman Blenski
cecil gathering 05
Dr. Dale Riebesehl, Roman Blenski, Chase Tonar (#2163) & Chuck Brunner (#688)
cecil gathering 06
Dave Poker (#472) & Roman Blenski
cecil gathering 07
Carol Frank (#675), Renee (#?), Ellie Gonzales (#758), Iris Sanchez (#650) & Roman Blenski
cecil gathering 08
Dr. Cecil Austin - Happy 78th Birthday!

St. Patrick’s Gathering + Play Bingo!
Saturday, March 16th, 2024 2:30 – 5:00 pm
The Taj Palace
3665 East Grange
Cudahy, WI 53110

st pats gathering bingo

All alumni are invited to meet, socialize, and play Pioneer Bingo. There will be IRISH snacks, and a history of the Pioneer Corps Jacket.

Last year, Mr. Mike Alvard won the $6,220.00 jackpot! This year’s jackpot will be high again. Two large tables will be reserved for all Pioneer Alumni and friends. What a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together again!

The third session will offer (5) $225.00 games after which a snack of Jimmy John’s Subs, Gardetto’s crunchy snacks, and a drink bring the grand total of $4500.00 to be given away that night…Come see the beautiful hall, support your corps, and win some money!!! Don’t forget to wear your Corps Jacket, Hoodie, Corps shirt, and all of the GREEN that you can put on!

belle city brassBELLE CITY BRASS

On March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, the Belle City Brass will perform a Celtic Tribute Concert! There is no admission charge FREE! (donations will be accepted) It takes place at the Sacred Heart Parish at 2201 Northwestern Avenue in Racine, WI

The Belle City Brass Band began years ago when Ken Norman (former Pioneer arranger) organized this group. Mr. Jim Mertins now the president of the band. You will remember that Jim Mertins taught the Pioneer hornline in the 1990’s. His two sons became fine brass players with us and his daughter was also a member.

The band has about 50 brass players and a handful of percussionists. Most of its members played in Corps during their youth. These outstanding professionals are now or were band and orchestra directors as well as soloists.

Sacred Heart’s Parish building has excellent acoustics for music. Yes, you will feel as well as hear the wonderful music. It’s almost as exciting as being at a Corps show, except you will be treated to comfortable seating (not wooden bleachers with splinters 😊) There are no props or jumping around either… I will not be surprised if you hear a tune or two that you played in Corps, because it is a Celtic Irish concert!



pioneer land update

Pioneer Needs a New Entrance Gate

Yes again, the grass is becoming green after a mild winter. However, at this time, we need a new entrance gate, even though our signs and the food truck are blocking half the entrance. Semi-trucks from neighboring businesses, see that our entrance is a dead end, so they drive through it, making a U-turn into the color guard field making a mess tearing apart the grass with huge ditch holes from their tires. It is not fun trying to mow the lawn maneuvering around those ditch gauges. We also have people coming into Pioneerland dumping garbage, building materials, old furniture in the back corner. Unfortunately, we are the ones who have to clean up all of the messes ourselves, costing a lot of money. So that is the reason that we need a new gate that we can lock to help prevent most of these challenges.



Yes, the time is coming when all Pioneer Alumni are to report to Pioneerland! Since we are about 4 months away, we are giving all of us ample time to keep that special date clear to come. Don’t worry, you will not have to run to the stop sign and back to build up your endurance. The only thing you will need is a healthy appetite and be ready to enjoy some fun with your Pioneer Family!

This gathering will take place the same day as the Air Show. I think it is the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds turn to give a lot of excitement! Being a stone’s throw away from the airport, The maneuvers take place from the shore of Lake Michigan to our airport! So between all the festivities of being with our Pioneer Family once again, you will have the extra advantage of viewing a spectacular air show!


It has been determined that with the rising cost of maintaining, licensing, insurance, and the ever rising cost of fuel, that is all exceeding the value of our buses. When the time comes that when we get our WGI Winds Group, Drumline, and Color Guard groups together, we can use one of our buses that we have in partnership with the K.D. Bus Company. This company stores their buses here at Pioneerland and have large charters throughout the U.S. They are becoming more successful and known throughout our area. So along with their daily increases of success, they are able to purchase newer vehicles. K.D. Bus Company donates to the Pioneer for using our facilities to park and maintain their vehicles. They have been very neat and helpful in our needs also.



Videos and photos from the past years of Corps seasons are available. Just give a call to the Pioneer Office: 414-333-2235 and we will be more than happy to help you!


Better Every Day!
And not all in one day!
Roman Blenski

dr cecil austin

Join Us for a Birthday Party for Dr. Cecil Austin
Sunday, February 18th from 1:00 - 5:00 pm
Meyer’s Restaurant at 4260 South 76th Street in Greenfield, WI

A family style broasted chicken and polish sausage dinner, with all the fixings, will be provided at NO CHARGE and then some testimonies from everyone!  If you have a picture of Cecil, bring it along too.

A chorus of “Happy Birthday” and You Are My Sunshine” will be sung as we cut the cake. It will be Cecil’s 74th birthday.

It would be very respectful and appreciative for all of us to be here for him. Be aware that he is now suffering from dementia.  He has done so much for so many over the past 55 years! He has help to develop musical skills in a countless number of young people. He also adjudicated Corps throughout the years.

Cecil Austin, a friend, a colleague, a mentor, an inspirer, and a great motivator!

Please make every effort to be part of this special celebration.

R.S.V.P please by:


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

nft 01Join us on Saturday, March 18th, 2023 for a nostalgic Gathering of the Clan

Share your Imperials of St. Patrick, Thunderbolts, and Pioneer Drum and    Bugle corps memories with friends of the past. (There’s no cost)

This is a great opportunity to contact some of your marching buddies that you haven’t seen in years, to meet and catch up at this special gathering Become a kid once again as you share stories from the past.

The gathering will take place on March 18th from 2:00pm until???


3665 East Grange Avenue
Cudahy, WI  53110

Food and beverage will be provided for purchase on site. Nostalgic photos, videos, and memorabilia will be on display. Cecil Austin will be with us playing his African drum as well as having lots of good conversations.

nft 03BINGO!!!

Well, do you feel lucky??? A special St. Patrick’s Day Bingo extravaganza

At 6:00 pm in the adjoining hall at the Taj Palace. Grab a table with a group of alumni friends and continue sharing your drum corps experiences between bingo games. Hopefully you’ll win all kinds of $$$!


I am sure that you have some good on the bus stories so share. If our buses could talk, could you imagine all of the stories they would share? As those buses moved from show to show, you saw many interesting sites as we traveling through the country. They also took you to some very interesting “cultural days” tours.


The ever memorable Harvard Parade meant the beginning of many summer parades and competitions. The white painted streets enlightened us to the point where sun glasses were permitted in uniform. And how can we forget the town’s mascot as we entered the city. She watched you many times as you performed the parade tune.


My, how time flies by…New challenges continue to fill out our lives. While the COVID outbreak slowed down our activity, our bingo attendance kept running at a slower pace, but steadily enough to keep up needed maintenance and upkeep of Pioneerland.  

A big challenge occurred when the United Seniors Bingo Hall was sold to a neighboring church. After 25 years in that location we were then searching for a new location. One of our Pioneerland tenants who owns a trolley bus at the land, offered his closed bar/restaurant facility in West Allis, WI for us to rent. We are saved…Our customers followed us to this new location, but the seating was in so many small areas and our faithful customers helped us in a search for a hall-type environment. After two months in “The Choice Restaurant and Pub”, I had the feeling that St. Patrick guided RB to a hall in Cudahy, WI. In the 1960’s and ‘70’s it was known as Victory Hall. Recently that hall was purchased by an individual who invested over two million plus dollars to completely renovate the facility by creating a grand ballroom environment. It is now rented out as a high-end wedding facility with a military ballroom environment and coming of age parties…WOW! It is now the most spacious and beautiful bingo hall facility in Wisconsin. We have been truly blessed!

Note that our bingo advertisement is enclosed, but we had to scramble to purchase more bingo equipment as well as taking our long table from Pioneerland and a huge advertising in an effort to keep our customers as we move again to a second facility within 2 months. We also checked out bingo facilities such as churches Moose Lodges, etc. that had discontinued. Then we came on checking this facility in Cudahy. Just by entering this building, we knew that it would be perfect for us.

The Taj Palace offered us the opportunity to run bingo on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings as well as some weekends with special events bingos during holidays when the hall isn’t being used.

Also, very importantly, it will be used on Sunday afternoons and evenings for Corps rehearsals because it has a large downstairs and several rooms that are all carpeted. The hall is huge and perfect for a percussion ensemble or also winter guard rehearsals as well. You need to come down and see it for yourself!

Pioneer has definitely been blessed!…

Everything worthwhile takes time, and it certainly has paid off for us. We have a lot to be thankful for.     

nft 06
Our first home base - St. Patrick's!

 nft taj palace

nft 07New LED lighting is being installed in our entire all-purpose building at Pioneerland. The cost of electricity has skyrocketed, not just in the winter, but all year ‘round. We have the outdoor lights on our building turned off to save money, but it’s not safe in the dark. Only the light coming from our airport neighbors and the Air National Guard give us a minimum of light. We can save approximately 40% with LEDs and timers to conserve usage when not always turned off in a timely manner.

nft 08Pioneer has made a donation of several sets of flags and the blue (Civil War Show) uniforms to a winter guard in East Troy, WI. Our equipment is neatly stored, but the building right now is cold.

nft 09Pioneer Murray Davis has retired after 37 total years of hard work on a weekly basis and at times a daily basis. Now he has the time to rest and relax giving more time to be involved with church work, directing choir and playing the organ, etc. Murray is still available when needed. His presence and knowledge are missed.

nft 10Pioneer videos, pictures, and shamrocks are available at the Corps’ Office. 414-327-2847 or my cell at 414-333-2235. If you lost your Shamrock with your member number & Necklace, you can still get one from Mrs. Ballenge at 276-685-4670. They are $25.00 each including postage. Mr. Ballenge, former Pioneer percussion instructor, still plays percussion professionally in town musical theatre in addition to being a band director.


Our Pioneer Stagecoaches have been quiet sitting and weathering our cold and snowy winter.  However, Bus 69 took a group of boy scouts on an overnight trip to Manitowoc, WI to tour a submarine and sleep over night in the WW.II sub.


Congratulations to Pioneer Webmaster Tim Osterbeck and his wife on the birth of their second child. They named him Chandler John. Chandler is a healthy 7 pound, 13 ounce boy who is 21 inches long.  Their first child is a girl named Delilah.

nft 13St. Patrick’s Day Memories

Our Milwaukee parades bring us two memories….One year we only had a handful of brass players, so who marched only drums and flags……and for that we won the best musical unit award!

Another memory was marching a parade route at 11:00 in the morning, and then marching in another parade at 2:00 pm in the exact same route as the 11:00 parade?

Chicago parade memories include the time a windy blizzard came during the parade and it was canceled…We were half way through the route and we took cover by stuffing into the hallways of some buildings.

For the Dublin, WI parade, the brass staff and the caption head marched. Lance Dimon was the Drum Major and looked great.

The South Side Chicago parades were huge with great attendance from local people. However, many of the people were on the rowdy side.  

Our last parade in 2019 with all alumni …many members were huffing and puffing and were a bit out of shape. The St. Patrick’s Day parades always marked the beginning of the performance year for the corps. It was the first of 12 parades we did each year for practice, public exposure, and of course, a generous donation to our budget.

nft 14It is with great sadness that we announce the passing this year of early Pioneer members.

While a bit late, it still offers us a chance to say a prayer on their behalf, as well as their families.

They were both members of our Imperials of St. Patrick Corps:

PAT MILLER (#135) played snare drum with us for 4 years.

BRUCE KELLER (#182) was a French horn player

Both of these men were very outgoing, gregarious, and their exploits were always entertaining. Their memories and efforts have an integral part of our corps’ history

 Coming Soon

Gathering of the Clan - July 29, 30, 31

July 29-30-31

Are you going to bring your instrument? Play along with alumni of the Kilts, Pioneer, and other corps of old? Why not??? Drum equipment will be available and some horns to be used for the event. Music will be available.

It will be a great opportunity to visit with some old friends, catch up with the news… Remember you’re not getting any younger, so take this chance to stop in at Pioneerland and maybe play along “Garry Owen!” and “Auld Lang Syne” if your talent holds up 

We will have old uniforms on display, corps artifacts, and pictures (bring along your old photos). Nothing pleases the mind than to think and remanence about good times!

Saturday, July 30th Dinner will be from 4 – 5pm will be served having roast beef and genuine polish sausage! Bring along your favorite beverage. Parking will be good because the K/B Excursion buses will be parked on the far North end of our land where the Tim Roberts trucking trailers are parked. Put up a tent? Why not? The police dog training school will not meet on this weekend so lots of room will be available!

Pioneer will have a good selection of hooded sweatshirts available and for sale:
$30.00 for sizes (S – XL) or $40.00 for sizes (2X – 5X). Also we will have extra VHS and DVD copies from some years on hand.

If you are unable to attend, send us an email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) with a line or two so that we can post it on the whiteboard for others to read. Those who will join us in playing instruments will be a hit and greatly appreciated!

Gathering of the Clan Schedule

Gathering of the Clan Detailed Schedule

Rev. Ronald Ruggles

Ron Ruggles served on the Pioneer Board of Directors as well as well as driving many hours from Paducah, Kentucky to bring his two daughters Tracy #1083 and Erin #1094 to march in the Pioneer. His son, Ron Jr., spent many summers with us as Equipment Manager and countless other tasks. It became a family activity who devoted themselves to the Corps’ young people. Ron’s wife, Jane traveled several seasons as our souvenir person, uniform maintenance, and many other tasks that touring demanded. His family continues to emulate Ron’s lifetime commitment by helping others. Ron was a kind and caring person that meant so much to so many Pioneer members, staff, and management. We miss him greatly. No doubt he was a person who not only helped others become Better Every Day, but also lived it himself! Thank you, Ron.

Noteworthy: At Ron’s burial site, the funeral director presented helium balloons to every person present, and as the final word of gratitude for Ron was given, the balloons were released as a gesture to the one who gave so much of himself.


It’s amazing. After many hours of weed trimming and preparation for resealing the asphalt areas, how stately the land looks. No marching on the field for 2 seasons, but because of a lot of donations from the MADD Police Dog Training School who uses our fields, the grass looks awesome on the main field (with the observation tower) and the second field which the turf is getting thicker. Of course, the Guard Field in front always looks great. Thanks to Murray, RBJ, and True Green Lawn Service, for keeping our field in top condition. We also thank the Merit Asphalt Company for repairing and resurfacing the whole area. New White parking lines makes a good impression also. It was one of the hottest days of the year (in the upper 90’s) so it took another day for properly set up as needed.


There is no news at this time. We are still in the planning stages.


After 25 years of fundraising with bingo at the United Seniors, the building has been sold. All bingo games will end on July 30th (Yes or Gathering of the Clan date), and United Seniors will be going inactive. So we are now moving to:

 Pioneer Bingo - The Choice Pub and Eatery

Formerly Crawdaddy’s Roadhouse and Shakey’s Pizza
9638 W. National Avenue

Our new bingo facility is located next to the Bike Shop and B/P Gas Station. It has been closed a while, but before COVID it was completely remodeled into a beautiful facility! We will continue to have bingo on both Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Since our last bingo at the Senior Center will be on July 30th (Gathering Night), our first bingo at the Choice Pub and Eatery will take place on the following Wednesday evening, August 3rd. We are grateful to the United Seniors people and its founder, Mrs. Dorothy Seeley for the many years we shared the building.


On the past 4th of July, a lot of thoughts of past 4th of July parades and events entered my mind. Our earlier parades in New Berlin, WI where the people watching were rowdy when drinks and objects were thrown at us as we marched along….or our 4 parades in one day that we did for 15 years 10-12-2-4 times. Sure we were tired, but we did it. It helped to keep the member fees reasonable.

Surprisingly we were able to make every one of them. Yes, we never missed a one, though at times it was close that we had to rush to be the last unit at the Hales Corner’s Parade.

Another memory was the Shorewood Parade where we marched for several blocks with hardly anyone watching!!! Our opportunity was to watch 5 municipal fireworks displays when we stayed in Cudahy. We saw theirs, St. Francis’, Milwaukee’s, South Milwaukee’s, and Oak Creek’s. They all took place at approximately the same time.

Time has not erased the memory of “Garry Owen” with parade watchers clapping their hands to the beat of the song.

We hope to see lots of Kiltie, Pioneer and many other Corps jackets in Attendance

 gathering group

Happy ♣ St. Patrick’s Day…We missed you!
Better Every Day!

As the Corps began its 61st year, we celebrated with a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day party. As we all repeated in the Corps Prayer, “The Togetherness and Friendship we share” was renewed by the 75 members of our Corps Family from many seasons. They shared memories, renewed friendships, and viewed displays of our Corps’ history. These included Corps jackets, horn displays, tour books, banquet books, VCR videos, DVDs from many past years, and even some 33 1/3rd record albums!

One of the highlights included a plentiful “Irish” meal consisting of corned beef, Polish sausage, roast beef, Irish mashed potatoes, and seasoned veggies. Sharon Drake, (Pioneer bus driver) provided us with cookies, peanut butter candies, etc. to sweeten us up! This all took place inside the United Seniors Bingo Hall where we have held our bingo session for years.

Tim Osterbeck, our Pioneer webmaster used his professional equipment to project many years of our Corps’ performances that many gathered around and fondly watched. This also stood out as a popular highlight to our get-together.

Another surprise that positively stood out was that several of our former leaders were in attendance:


alumni 01

 There were lots of surprises seeing many of your friends that you have not seen for up to 40 years!

johnJOHN SCHOENKNECHT #444 had a great display of Thunderbolt memorabilia. If you remember, John marched in our Corps in 1973 and later became the Pioneer’s Assistant Director. He has also in recent years helped in so many ways including creating prop designs, helping with our cook truck, as well as other behind the scenes needs.

alumni 02

jacketIt was interesting to see the small changes of our satin green Corps jackets throughout the years. While at one time all corps had a jacket. Many were satin with beautiful displays on the backs. Today, only the Troopers and Pioneer still have the satin ones, as corps jackets seem to be out of style as well as corps letter sweaters and overseas hats that once were worn to show corps spirit and pride in their corps. With 60 years on our Corps’ history, there must be at least 1200 of our jackets in someone’s closet or attic, maybe even forgotten in the back of the closet.

New Pioneer hoodie sweatshirts were available for sale, plus free green pens and New Orleans Mardi Gras necklaces were given to everyone.


 busAlso in attendance were Pioneer Drivers Randy Erickson, Bill Nylund (#159) Dave Jarigese, and Shari Drake.



Special thanks to our faithful volunteers who without even being asked, helped in the clean-up and reloading of all of our displays. Once a leader, they are always leaders by example! Not being expected to do this, you need to know that your efforts were very much appreciated!

Also a special Thank-You to those who left money for expenses. It was not asked for, but was certainly a thoughtful deed on your part

gathering 01
Truly, the Hard-working members of the Corps!
gathering 02
Jim Muchmore # 470
Pioneer with Humor
gathering 03Leon Gregory # 302
Tenor Drummer & RB
gathering 04
Tony Miller # 114
First Soprano Soloist
& Pioneer Jacket Display
gathering 05
Jim Muchmore # 470
John Schoenknecht # 444
Leonard Steed #545
Dr. Cecil Austin
& Thunderbolt Memorabilia Display
gathering 06
Jessica Marsala # 2208
Pioneer Drum Major & Percussionist
and Roman Blenski
gathering 07
Lots of corned beef, Polish sausage, Roast Beef & Green Doughnuts!
gathering 08
Jim Muchmore # 470
Tom Bronk # 123 Imperials of St. Patrick Drum Major
and Sue Blenski
gathering 09
Becki Denomie #189
Imperials of St. Patrick Color Guard

crossIt is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of some friends and members who were part of us:

JOE KLOSS (#244) Joe was a contra player from 1967-1969 who recently passed away. We remember his brother, Dick played soprano in 1966 and his sister Carrolyn (nee Scharping) was in the brass section. Joe was part of a wonderful and talented family.

JOE COURTNEY Joe was for many years an avid Pioneer booster. He was a prominent judge in the color guard circuits as well as for drum corps. He passed away on January 27th, 2022. Joe was the corps director of the Vaqueros Drum Corps in Elmhurst, Illinois. He was devoted to the marching world of DCM, DCI, WGI, MCGC, and Bands of America. He will be missed a lot by the entire marching arts and color guard activities.

ELIZABETH BROSKY (Lucan) #1583 Liz, marched in Pioneer from 1982-2022. She passed away on February 11th, 1922 in Boston, PA. My memory reminds me of her extraordinary willingness to help in any section from 2001 – percussion, color guard, or even helping out in the support staff. Her mother, Jane Huff was involved as a volunteer bus driver as well as multi-talented in the food and uniform departments.

baseballGOOD DEEDS… Once again, for the third straight year, Pioneer sponsored The Wilson Premier Baseball League. The baseball field is located on S. 13th Street and College Avenue in Milwaukee. It is near Pioneerland and is operated by Neal Budahn. It has three divisions of youth from 11 – 18 years old.

calvin hollisCONGRATULATIONS… for the accomplishment of Pioneer
Calvin Hollis and his Gospel music singing musicians for receiving the Gospel Music Artists Association’s award for “Trio of the Year” taking place in Dallas, Texas. Calvin and his church group can be seen traveling the interstate highway between Oklahoma and Texas in their beautiful MCI Entertainer Coach. While Calvin isn’t singing, he preaches every Sunday, is a cattle auctioneer during the week, and in his spare time is a square dance caller! Yes, Pioneer Calvin is a very talented man.

helpOn Wednesday and Saturday evenings, we need help at various positions for operating our bingo games. Come at 5:00 pm and we are usually finished by 9:30 pm. It is a great fundraiser for the corps and you get to meet some awesome people. If you would be willing to help, please call the Pioneer Office at 414-327-2847. We will be glad to hear from you!


A new shipment of our nice warm hoodies has arrived with sizes small to 5X!!! Small to XL = $30.00. 2X – 5X = $50.00 plus postage. Our email address is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Yes, this helps our corps a lot! Keep thinking about us as you have the opportunity to both purchase some great products as well as at the same time you will benefit your … Pioneer Corps!

 july gathering header

Our next Gathering of the Clan
Will be with the Racine Kilties Alumni Corps
at Pioneerland outdoors on
July 29-30-31

july gathering schedule

Thank you Lord for the togetherness and friendship we share. For the hard working members of the Corps, and for the Corps itself. Instill in us the true spirit of competition taking the pain of losing with the joy of winning, and all with a smile. Remind us Lord that by doing the best we can at all times, We will have a winning Corps


In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, all members/alumni of the Pioneer, Pioneer II, The Thing, Imperials of St. Patrick, and the Thunderbolts are invited to a ♣FREE LUNCHEON♣ that will begin at 1:00 pm.

Sunday, March 13th, 2022
United Senior Center
4515 W. Forest Home Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53219

Naturally, an Irish feast of corned beef & cabbage, as well as other choices, will be served by Irene’s Catering.

Mr. Tim Osterbeck (# 1145) will have an audio-visual display of various performances throughout the corps’ past 60 years projected on a huge wall.

Roman & Sue will have a display of artifacts from the various seasons that will include pictures, uniforms, and memorabilia items of your years. RB will wear his traditional Irish Kilt and have his collection of bugles from the beginning of drum corps in the 1920’s through the present.

This homecoming will be a time to meet old friends and to hear about Pioneer’s new venture into the world of WGI WINDS, DRUM LINES, and possibly COLOR GUARD.

Be Nice….Place this announcement on your Facebook posts to let as many know as possible. Call or email (414-327-2847) or (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) that you are coming so that we have plenty of great food and drink available for everyone!

 Better Every Day! 15 Alumni gathered at RB’s house this past Sunday, Feb. 6th, to create their “St. Patrick’s Day gathering” as well as another this summer… It was an awesome afternoon meeting with a lot of positive sharing.

Roman Blenski III (#701)
Roman Blenski II
Susan Blenski
Murray Davis
Barbara Mommaerts (#115) 
 Lana Leskovek (#129)
Jesse Reyes (#666)
Dan “Currier”Schermeister (#248)
Larry Medrano (#467)
Tim Osterbeck (#1145)
Karl Mueller (#1003)
Kurt Mueller (#1004)
John Schoenknecht (#444)
Friedel Cramer (#1054)
Diana Kupinski (#214)

20220206 1604481  20220206 162131

20220206 162204  20220206 161924



A meeting of the Pioneer Alumni will take place at the home of Roman Blenski at 2:00 pm. The goal for the meeting is to discuss the St. Patrick’s Day Clan Gathering and to create some ideas for a summer/fall date to get-together at Pioneerland.

Everyone is welcome!

4601 W. Holt Avenue  (Corner House)
414-327-2847 (Office)
414-333-2235 (Cell)


The Sound of Music once again filled the Pioneer’s indoor hall (all purpose garage), as the Kilties alumni corps used it for a two day rehearsal. They had about 40 horns and featured 10 snare drummers. It was really a treat to the ears of us corps people to once again hear the awesome sounds of a drum corps boldly playing as the doors were opened and the garage served as the stage. The Kilties’ players came from all over the Midwest.  Pioneer bought pizzas for the corps.

nft kilties 02Past Pioneer staff members were still playing, including Tom (percussion), and Jim Mertins (brass) Jim’s son, Eric Mertins, Pioneer Alumnus (#1028) also played mellophone. He is and was a highly talented corps member.

nft kilties 03Pioneer former instructor and Corps Manager, Dale Riebesel (1988 ’89) led the Kilties as drum major. He showed his firm style and excellent direction of the many Kilties’ favorite tunes of past years.

nft kilties 04Some past memories also flourished of Ken Norman, arranger and Composer who recently passed away. He was an icon in the drum corps activity for the past 60 years. He worked with almost every corps in the Midwest including Pioneer as a member of the teaching staff as well as music writer for several of our shows. However, first and foremost, his heart was always as a Kiltie.


Field conditions at Pioneerland are excellent with two seasons not marched on. The grass is thicker and many of the past bare spots are no longer because they were filled with top soil especially between the 40 yard lines.

“Mad Dog Training” continues to rent Pioneerland. They train various breeds of dogs for Police Departments and security duties.

Our new (Green) John Deer rider lawnmower, manned by Murray Davis, keeps our rehearsal fields well-trimmed. As shown, it can also be used as a snow plow in the winter. It has a lot of power and fun to drive.


The fleet has officially activated Bus 69. Upgrades include new glass windows (Thank you RBJ!), rear tire repaired, seats were all professionally steam cleaned by Milwaukee’s Adelman Cleaners, and the vehicle passed its yearly DOT inspection.

Renting spaces at Pioneerland is KBE Excursions Bus Company. The newer looking coaches are huge and almost new. The are 58 passenger buses look awesome!

Our first charter run since New Orleans will be for former Pioneer Drum Major, Jackie Bilder (“1787”). Her bar will provide a bus to Wrigley Field in Chicago for a rock concert on Saturday, September 18th.

nft bingo 01BINGO UPDATE

Our Bingo Games raisers continue to do well even under the Covid restrictions of only 125 people. We run Bingo every Wednesday and Saturday evenings. It is building a nice financial account to help build up our new Winds group, as well as the maintaining of Pioneerland’s many items.

We need floor workers and personnel to handle ticket sales. We ask if you would be able to help us occasionally like for one night? Your nice call to our Office 414-327-2847 would very much be appreciated. The Bingo Hall is located at 4515 W. Forest Home Avenue in Milwaukee.

Inft crossN MEMORY

We heard about the passing of Bob Cramer (#299) who played in the Bass Drum section. He lived in Cedarburg, Wisconsin at the time, and was in the corps with his sister, Betty (#290).

nft uniformsDONATION

We donated some extra uniforms from our Pioneer’s history to the Drum Corps Memorabilia Museum located in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Roman and Sue Blenski were in that area for the Drum Corps World Hall of Fame meeting (where Roman is a member) and dropped off items for their preservation in the museum. Things from the D.C.M. and DCI II/III era were also donated. It is amazing about the museum’s collection assembled by Mr. Bill Ives, the museum’s curator. It is very orderly and easy to view with Bill’s good documentation. Besides the adjacent, we will post number of photos that Roman and Sue took at the museum at the bottom of this article.


Pioneer is known for this motto, but we're not the only group that has used it. It is interesting to note that the Kansas City Chiefs, N.F.L. football team used that moniker for the season. I am sure that each one of our Pioneer Family smiles when they hear the expression and brings back many memories to their minds of their corps seasons.


Pioneerland will be the scene for Racine Kilties Alumni Corps’ rehearsal this Friday, July 30th, and Saturday, July 31st. These rehearsals will begin each morning at 9:00am. You are welcome to come and visit, or bring your horn and play along!


Our Wednesday evening bingo at the United Senior’s Center, (4515 W. Forest Home), is doing very well. The sessions begin at 6:30 pm. We also now sell 7 different kinds of pull-tabs. Come on down and have some fun. Volunteers are always needed and appreciated!


Pioneer’s marching percussion instruments have recently been cleaned up and tuned. They will be used this weekend by the Kilties, and ready for our upcoming Pioneer Winds group.

In recent weeks, there has been several uprisings in South Africa. We have been in contact with several of our SA members and all have informed us that they are safe and that hopefully things will calm down. Many former SA Pioneers still hang together via Facebook. Mumsy McHunu, one of the greatest and most dedicated SA Pioneer members has been in contact with me (Murray) and with all of her connections has let me know and wants to assure you that they are safe.

Winds groups do not have any specific instrumentation. In fact, there are purposely less regulations and restrictions against winds groups, at least in regard to instrumentation. These less stringent rules exist in order to encourage experimentation. One winds group could be entirely made up of brass, another only of woodwind instruments, and yet another a mixture of both woodwinds and brass. Winds groups also often incorporate percussion elements and guard elements into their performances, resulting in a unique mix of electric synergy.

Aside from the freedom of instrumentation, winds groups also must take a unique concert band approach to their rehearsals and performances, diverting from the traditional marching band approach. In a concert band approach, the focus is on producing a more precise and controlled sound. In contrast, in a marching band approach, the focus is on producing a full and exaggerated sound. The reason for this difference is simple. In fact, as Wayne Downey stated, “It’s right in the name. Indoor.” Marching bands practice and perform almost exclusively outside, thus their sound must be able to carry into the audience, despite their expansive surroundings. Winds groups practice and perform almost exclusively indoors, thus their sound has a smaller distance to travel, resulting in less of a need to project. (Text courtesy of WGI)

Amazon Smile LogoAMAZON SMILE
Thanks to your efforts, another donation to the Pioneer Corps has been given to us from the Amazon People….. It is so easy to use! For every purchase you make from a percentage is donated to help us. If you have not already, just type in the above address and designate Pioneer!




valentines day

This is a time to say THANK YOU! To our close friends and people who have done a lot for you, our Pioneer Family. We have a very long list of people who have and continue to support the Corps: their time, their money, and have offered good words about Pioneer to others. All this makes the Pioneer Corps enter its 60th season. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY to EVERYONE!

mardi grasIt is a year ago today that we were issuing Pioneer instruments and preparing bus #69 for the trip to New Orleans to Mardi Gras. Scott Stewart organized the Madison Scouts Alumni Corps for the trip, and what a wonderful experience it was! To those who participated it was truly an experience of a lifetime……and then the pandemic hit…

aheadAt this time there is no news that is certain activity for the Corps activity. When we do start again, things will be different. We will travel less, rehearsal schedules will be changed, housing will be more difficult to obtain, and more attention will be given to health, welfare, and safety for everyone, I predict that there will be many new faces involved, as many of those from the past have moved on and found new interests and life in general has changed for them. So if we like it or not, the Drum Corps activity, as you have known it, will become very different. Changing times = new and different ways of doing things. While we are anxious to start recruiting and rehearing for the Pioneer’s WGI entries, we still we are still avidly watching the legal and health restrictions for large group gatherings. So let’s be patient, keep in touch with each other, and every day make the special effort of being, “Better Every Day!”


Right now our Pioneerland is very cold and quiet. Everything is packed inside or around our building. Batteries for all the vehicles are kept charged, and all of the snow is being plowed.


BINGO on Saturday evenings continues to do well. We have been always hit or come close to the government’s limit of 125 players. Still it does not give us much profit, but pays the bills for insurance, electricity, telephone, snow plowing, and office expenses. So when we begin again, we will start off with no debt, and a few dollars to get our Corps going once more. We are very thankful…..We are at this time more fortunate than many others.

To the left you see our new Progressive Board for our Pioneer Bingo. It was designed and made by “Fast Signs”, a new company in our area. They are replacing AAA Signs who have lettered our buses, drum heads, and other items for the past 40 years and who have gone out of business….sad to say the casualty of the virus. The board lists the prize money for the night and the number of calls that are needed to win the Progressive.

On Wednesday, March, March 3rd, will no longer have Bingo at the St. Francis Lion’s Club because they continue to be shut down, but rather restart our Wednesday Bingo sessions at the United Seniors of Wisconsin’s Bingo Hall. This move will be a positive opportunity to once again do well and give us a great opportunity to build up our treasury to when we once begin our rehearsals again. We are fortunate that we are the only organization in Milwaukee to have Bingo on Wednesday evenings. To help make all this happen, we are in need of 2 helpers on Wednesday Evenings. PLEASE consider helping us on Wednesday nights. If so, call us or email us at the numbers listed below:
414-327-2847…This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

mpsThe Milwaukee Public School system partnership grant funding to provide youth with positive, engaging opportunities in a safe environment during evenings and weekends during the school year. Pioneer has applied for instruction in brass, percussion, visual, and flag skills for rehearsals that will take place on Tuesday evenings and Sunday afternoons. We expect a large number of beginners, however we will be prepared to enhance the abilities of those experienced with some, as well as, advanced musical skills. This will be our first try for the grant. We give a huge Thank You! To Kathy Andrea (#112) Pioneer Alumnus, former Drum Major, and now the head of a huge accounting firm, for taking the lead of applying for the grant.


We sent a donation to help sponsor an indoor solo/ensemble contest by the Warriors Corps from Jamaica, New York. All Corps are doing today what they can to keep their memberships intact. In appreciation of our donation they sent us this patch that they gave to all of the participants.


Those who were in our predecessor Corps, “The Imperials of St. Patrick” in the early 1960’s should remember Sister Mary Benno. It was she who contacted Roman Blenski to teach brass for the Corps at St. Patrick’s Parish. While she passed away years ago, a former student, Greg Forciea (#453) sent us a very nice photo of her from after she retired (then, Joan (Mueller) Nugent. Greg recalled her patience and time spent instructing him to help be in the St. Pat’s Cadets. It was really “Class” on his part to say Thank You in writing after so many years.


T-shirts, Hoodies, DVD’s, etc., are available by calling or emailing: (414-327-2847…This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) the Corps Office. While we do not have One Day Amazon Delivery Service), we can get them to you.


Linda passed away unexpectedly this past January 31st. She was a member of the Corps during the early years in the Color Guard (Imperials of St. Patrick”. Records show that in 1965 she had perfect attendance and won the award for Best Flag. She will be remembered for her primness and attention to detail. She was having Cancer challenges that lead her to her eternal home. There will be a Celebration of Life held this summer.

michigans own

The Corps activity has lost a lifetime promoter, director, and fan, Mr. Robert Waskoviak. He was in a coma the last month of his life. He was at the Covenant Healthcare Center in Saginaw, MI. where he passed away on December 30th, 2020.

Bob was the founder of the Saginaires Corps and devoted his entire life to the organization. As time went on, the corps’ name was changed to Northern Aurora, and sponsored a very successful winter drumline called the “North Coast Academy.”

Being fully dedicated, part of his role as corps director also included being Bingo Chairman, Transportation Director, as well as anything else that was needed.

Bob was a relentless promoter and inspired many people to be a part of his corps, many of whom were from the State of Michigan including Bill Faulds, Andrea Birbilis, Dan Mihacko, Mark Elsworth, Joe Kuerzi, Richard Jensen, Steve Yoder, and Rick Roberts. He even invited Pepi Nataro from the East coast to be part of his creative staff. Please accept my apologies if I have neglected to recall everyone, especially those who went on to teach many other corps in Michigan.

Robert Waskoviak was born in 1930 in the city of Saginaw, MI. He attended the Arthur Hill High School and went on to obtain a degree in agriculture from Michigan State University. While working for the Saginaw Chamber of Commerce in 1965, he organized and started the Saginaires as well as a feeder unit called the Eagles. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club and served as President of the Great Lakes Circuit. Along with John Angello, they serviced corps in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.

In 1978 with the founding of Drum Corps Midwest (DCM), Bob was elected to and served as Treasurer every year after until the end of 2005. His skill of providing costs for proposed ideas, and insistence on fair and immediate distribution of earnings earned him both the confidence and appreciation from every corps. Bob, in 25 years, never missed a meeting and frequently was the calming voice in the meeting room, as emotions were often displayed. It has been said that the strength of DCM’s finances was due to Bob Waskoviak’s skills and untiring efforts in order to keep things fair and equitable in a competitive activity.

Mr. Waskoviak’s wife, Linda, and his sons would like to extend a special thank-you to their nephew, Doug Stearns and all of the wonderful doctors and nurses at the Covenant Healthcare Center for giving Bob the absolute best care at all times.

In keeping with Bob’s wishes, he was cremated. A celebration of his life is being scheduled for a time this coming summer of 2021.

So many youth and adults alike were given experiences that they would never have had because of Robert. “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”….RB

amazon smileBy shopping at, you can purchase everything that is contained in the regular The difference is that a portion of your payment to Amazon is donated back to the Pioneer Corps. Just type in the address, follow the prompts, choose Pioneer as the recipient of the donation, and then continue shopping like you normally would. You get good bargains, excellent service, and help our young members with our musical participation at the same time! Pioneer would like to thank the many who are now making use of this program. We recently received a nice check for your responses!


If you cannot lift the load off of another’s back, do not walk away, but rather lighten it.”…. Frank Tyger

Better Every Day!



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At this time, Pioneer is sort of marking time - anxious to start recruiting, and rehearsing. However, the nationwide climate is sending us a strong signal to wait. The COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread rapidly in our Wisconsin area. Politics, protests, and unrest may subside, but every activity/club/sports/etc. is feeling the impact of all the above.

It is my feeling that we should start seeking applicants for membership without a precise start-up date. Whatever that date is, we would begin training, rehearsing, and forming a nucleus of an available unit in some form for the summer of 2021. Many options then could be taken depending on the world around us. I do, however, believe that now is the time to enlist interested students to become part of our Pioneer as soon as we are able. Let’s take advantage as soon as possible of the of many restfulness youth who are anxious to get involved with a vibrant activity. More information will be coming soon!

We are informed that WGI will not have any in-person events this winter. Some virtual opportunities may be offered. DCI is considering a very short “Bridge Tour” in 2021, leading to a full season in 2022. Nothing has been announced by DCA.

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Pioneerland has lots of activities taking place at this time including Police Dog Training and parking spaces for the following individuals working on projects who are giving a small donation for its use:

  • Pioneer driver Kenya Lawrence, who parks her mobile nail and hair salon that she has purchased and outfitted
  • Charles Miericke (#1769) selling parted out parts via the internet of his 1979 Dodge van
  • Pioneer Booster Roberts Trucking who store their semi-trailers at the far North section of Pioneerland
  • KB Excursion Buses
  • Our Pioneer Coach buses that are resting as people are not traveling or taking group trips

There are no soccer teams rehearsing at this time.

RBJ (#701) and Mr. Khaled from the KB Excursion Bus Company have installed security video cameras in six locations around Pioneerland that record every activity taking place there day and night.

Murray Davis and RBJ (#701) have been keeping the rehearsal field grasses cut and trimmed on a regular basis throughout the spring, summer, and fall so they are ready at any time for future use.

All of our vehicles have been maintained, inspected, and ready to travel someday soon!

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Our Saturday evening sessions continue with the state’s mandate of only allowing 1/3 capacity. While it doesn’t make as much profit these days, it does pay for our office expenses, electricity, insurance, etc.

Our Lion’s Club bingo is shut down until maybe next March. The Lions are experiencing a shortage of volunteers to help at their hall and the customer attendance has been low.

Loyal customer for almost 20 years, Martha Cisler celebrated her 100th birthday! She was dressed up for her birthday along with her friends at our Pioneer Bingo. They attend regularly and during the summer they wear their Bingo Every Day t-shirts. They come early and play cards, enjoying the company of each other.

While now on a smaller scale of attendance and with a smaller profit, we are very thankful to have our bingo sessions to keep the corps financially balanced. Some of you might remember performing for the seniors outside the Senior Center. The people talked about that very often. Many were also proud to see you at the West Allis parades. As Pioneer Bingo players, they had a great loyalty to you and what you did!