News From the Top


We have 60 people so far…. and we need more to march in the annual Southside Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade!  Persons interested in participating in the parade can complete the Parade Application by clicking on the button below:

Parade Application

We will either march, or potentially sit on a trailer (more info to follow). The music for the parade, GARRY OWEN and STARS & STRIPES is online:

Here is the public communication from DCI dated January 10th, 2019

“After thoughtful deliberation this afternoon, the voting membership of Drum Corps International revoked the membership of Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps. As a result, the corps will no longer be permitted to participate in DCI.

In August of 2018, Pioneer received disciplinary action for policy violations, resulting in suspension from all DCI activities. Today’s action by the voting membership reflects the commitment of Drum Corps International to maintain the standards of excellence for all participating organizations.

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.”

It was a dark day in the history of the DCI Drum and Bugle Corps Activity because they sacrificed one of their own……

Merry Christmas to Everyone!

From The Top

It is that time of the year to wish everyone you know a joyous, pleasant, and hearty “Thank You” for being part of your life’s experiences this past year. Pioneer Corps also has a large list that is too numerous to mention everyone, but I would like to give a special mention to Bill Strube, Ron Ruggles, Tim Osterbeck, Lisa Savage, Dr. Cecil Austin, Murray Davis, and Roman Blenski for their efforts in dealing with Drum Corps International. While no additional information has yet been determined, it will be coming at the DCI Annual Convention in January in Indianapolis, IN. No doubt that this has become a gut-wrenching experience these past 4 months…... But rest assured that Pioneer will continue to serve youth many more years in addition to the previous 58. This holiday season, everyone should demonstrate “Class” and don’t forget to be, “Better Every Day”!

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SHOP AT AMAZON SMILE and they will make a donation to the PIONEER CORPS!  Here is the link:

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Yes, Amazon Smile gives the Corps .05% of eligible purchases you make in the form of a monthly check to the Pioneer. It is a foundation by Amazon to benefit not-profits like the Pioneer. There is no fee to use this service. As we are getting closer to the holidays and lots of shopping to be done, please use it. It will benefit you as well as the Pioneer. Here is a link:

alumni meeting

The Pioneer’s Alumni Meeting was a success. In attendance, 52 extraordinary people made up of marching members and staff made the trip to Pioneerland and met in our all-purpose building. There were Pioneer Family Members from every decade of the corps’ 57 year history, mainly from the 1960’s, and ‘70’s. Those from the 60’s & ‘70’s won the attendance prize. Our new Corps Director, Bill Strube #284, spoke eloquently and distinctively like a school principal (that he was). He was conveying all of the details concerning the DCI suspension. Tim Osterbeck #1145 handle the role of alumni chairman for answering the many questions and concerns of those who attended. Roman Blenski covered information about last season’s (2018) happenings. He also discussed the financial income and expenditures. Josh Pier, our staff coordinator also talked about the rehearsal and touring matters. So check the meeting report for more details.

In attendance were some nice surprises: The Ruggles family, our first out of the area members of the 1990’s, Attorney Jennifer Collins, Pioneer trumpet player in the 1990’s, “Nebraska” Elizabeth Regier #2295 front ensemble 2013,’14,’16 season as section leader. She works at Marquette University as a researcher. Also Amanda Burton # 1605, 2002-2005 trumpet player, our current visual staff person as well as being recently married! Two of our oldest Pioneer members present were Barbara (Foloran) Szymanski #190 and Bill Nylund #159

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Amazon Smile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on The difference is that when you shop on Amazon Smile (, the Amazon Smile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. There are no extra fees using Amazon Smile. This will help the Corps pay for many unexpected expenses that pop up. Once you navigate to Amazon Smile, you can set your purchases to support Pioneer!
alumni meeting
An open discussion will be held about this past season, our current status with DCI, and future options. If you have questions, input, ideas, want to be informed, and/or would like to be volunteer, this will be a great time to do so.

There will be some great German bratwurst and Coke a Cola available for you beginning at noon. Also a delayed order of Pioneer Hoodies have arrived in all sizes that can be purchased for $30.00. This will be an excellent opportunity to meet old friends (not that they are old!)

If you cannot make it, but still have some particular questions, email them either to our Corps’ Office: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or to our Alumni Leader and Webmaster, Mr. Tim Osterbeck: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. He also donates his time and talents to be in charge of our website.

celtic dragon
The Muskegon, Michigan High School’s Marching Band has purchased our dragon. Chris, the bus driver, and Roman delivered all of the parts last Saturday. Memories of loading, unloading and assembling by the pioneer members who did it will be featured in our tour video. Thank you, Dave Campbell, Josh Pier, and JaMalh’ Wallace for you guys making it happen!
dragon drum head
Drum heads that is!
If you would like a souvenir ”Dragon” bass drum head there is a limited quantity available for $25.00 + shipping. Just email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the Office at 414-327-2847. These heads will bring back great memories for many years to come.
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The premier winter guard, ONYX, will be featuring a lot of Pioneer talent.This all-age main unit includes our Caption Head, JaMalh’ Wallace, Kelsey Arnony#2166, and the Staff Member of the Year, Jamison Washington who are all performing.
60 days
It has been exactly 60 days since the end of our 2017 season. The Seventeen (17) members who are on the Payment Plan need to take care of business….Please contact Mr. Eric Haelman: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the Office: 414-327-2847
tour video
The Pioneer 2018 Tour Video is a work in progress. If you have not received your patch or group photo, please call the Office: 414-327-2847 or Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Cheers to the 19 people who contributed a grand total of $2,524.00 to our electronics fund drive. Headed by Pioneer Sound Engineer, Rob McCowan # 2426, this enabled us to purchase more equipment for the fast-growing electronics area in the world of drum corps. Please note the large number of Alumni who answered Rob’s call to contribute:

Jane Paglia
KC Keele # 2613
Bryden Vitense #2359
Ryan Gilbert Johnson #1160
Kathryn Andrea #112
Chase Kapteyn # 2469
Dubravko Zaja # 1680
Cathlyn Clark #967
Leigh Kahre
Karen Elsby #571
John Humphrey
Michael Sevcik $1568
Jon Berg #1629
Malcom Liest #463
Jessica Neises #2514
John Schoenknecht #444
Michael Twigg #1146
Ripen Washlaski
Steve Koszewski #111


Under the direction of Pioneer Alumnus, Sam Karafotis, #1799, the Atoka High School won the Oklahoma State Championship last weekend. We thank Mr. Karafotis for housing our Corps this past summer while in the DCI World Class Tour. The stadium he had us rehearse on was exceptional! Congratulations Sam and the Atoka High School Band!

clean up
Help is needs this coming weekend from 9:00 – 3:00 pm at Pioneerland to get ready for our Alumni/Booster meeting that will be held on Saturday, October 20th. Come on down! Every hand helps. And if you are in the mood you may also track to the stop sign!
Support has been incredible in the forms of email, letters, telephone calls, and even visits to our corps office, showing support for the Pioneer. We cannot thank you enough!
bikeLife is like riding a bicycle...

You need to keep pedaling to keep your balance!

-Albert Einstein

Better Every Day!
Garry Owen

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music Good Morning…Good Morning…and How Do You Do! music

The group photos taken by Jolesch Photography are included on this page. Known for their great framing and color, they have been taking pictures of Pioneer for years. They can be ordered including your personal photo by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Check out their great offers for the group pictures with your personal action shot on the same frame. Thanks to Mr. Mark Jolesch & team for all of your kindness and efforts to enhance our corps!

These shamrock necklaces with your member numbers can be ordered from Ms Christina Ballengee # 2231 by visiting:

This meeting will take place at PIONEERLAND on OCTOBER 20th at 1:00 pm. The agenda will be our current direction, 2019 season, and most importantly, your questions and answers. For our version of Pioneer Octoberfest, you will be treated to authentic German Usinger Bratwursts and soda starting at Noon. Come and meet old friends and take part in looking at Pioneer’s future.

Once again we have lent our snare drums to Milwaukee’s Humbolt Park Middle School. The students are led and taught by Pioneer Alumnus Dennis Newman # 234.
Our Front Ensemble rack, a marimba, and our tenor drums are being used by Sussex Hamilton High School. They are being instructed by our Caption Head, Josh Pier and Roman Blenski III #701. The electronics are being set up by Alex Sylvester # 2429 and Rob McCowen #2426.

$$$ HELLO! $$$
Those members who are on the payment plan, and those who wanted extra time to finish paying their summer fees, Mr. Eric Haelman says that it’s time to pay NOW..36 days since the end of the season. Send all or part of it now!

Baritone player Jessie Reyes # 666, has contacted our office to be of help with our challenges. He lives in Franklin, Wisconsin and will be with us at our October 20th Alumni Meeting. He was a hard-working member of our corps in the 1960’s and early ‘70’s.

No I did not forget our Color Guard in the banquet reports. All 20 of them were superb this past summer. They were led by 6-year vet Ally Farrand #2300. The guard had a remarkable attendance record and was the strongest section next to our amazing cymbal line. Caption Head, JaMalh’ Wallace, Kelsey Arnony #2166, Lisa Janasik ##1881, and Jamison Washington presented the awards. It was especially noticed how well-dressed everyone was for the semi-formal occasion.

Alayna Bryant #2726 won the best flag award by the member vote, staff attitude and staff ability captions. This was Alayna’s first season.

Kodi Mink #2670, won the best rifle award by also taking the lead in voting by the members, staff ability, and staff attitude.

Grace McCoy #2675 was the best saber, winning the same 3 captions. There were so many talented people in the color guard area! Grace was also the 2nd runner up for Rookie of the Year.


Down a Bit,
“Better Every Day”

Garry Owen

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It is exciting to get together with 100 + extra-ordinary human beings this weekend. All of them are people like you who have the drive and strong desire to perform at a high level of excellence with their drum, horn, or auxiliary equipment!



____TOUR FEE BALANCE: Your balance is critical to the Corps” success. Every supply vendor we have wants to be paid C.O.D. and wants either cash or credit card. I you have not already, please do so this coming Friday night. (If you really want to use Pay-Pal, be sure to add the extra fee!)


____HOW MUCH CLOTHES, ETC.: Less is better as far as your personal items. The entire corps does their laundry and has a Wal-Mart stop about every 9-10 days.


____MEDICAL/PHYSICAL/INSURANCE: Make sure we have a copy of the filled Physical, Medical Consent forms and your medical insurance card.


____YOUR NAME SHIRT: Bring your Name Shirt from camp. There will be a lot of new people who would like to know you.


____TRANSPORTATION: Be sure to check ahead of time, the time that your mode of transportation to Milwaukee leaves giving you plenty of time to arrive at camp on time. If you are car-pooling with someone, be sure to do the right thing and help pay them for some gas or toll fees. So be prompt, if not early, arriving here.


____FINAL CHECK: Give it one more try with your friends and acquaintances whose plans might have changed and would like to march this summer.


____MEMORIZED MUSIC: Please be sure to have your parts for both GARRY OWEN and STARS & STRIPES memorized for our Monday Memorial Day Parade in Wauconda, IL. The parade begins at 10:00 am. If you can remember, bring your MARCHING SHOES along. Our new ones are on back-order.




CORPS HOUSING: For the first part of our Spring Training, the corps will be staying at the Wisconsin’s State Fair TOMMY THOMPSON YOUTH CENTER, a beautiful facility located in West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb. After that we will stay at the CUDAHY MIDDLE SCHOOL.


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AMAZON SMILE:  Please have both you and your parents, relatives, friends, etc. sign up for Then, for whatever purchases you/they make, a portion of the payment will be donated to your Pioneer Corps. It’s just another way of being Better Every Day for your Corps.


WE NEED: Volunteers to help us with some basic health/first-aid/and member’s welfare issues during our Spring Training and Summer Tour. If they can give a day, few days, or a week, it would help out a lot! If you have any leads please call our office: 414-327-2847


WE NEED: Bus and Truck drivers, also for one weekend, one week, or more for the summer. If you have any leads please call our office: 414-327-2847. If they have a CDL, that is best. Or if they have a regular driver’s license, they can help in other ways.


MORE HELP NEEDED: Back-field Conductors as well as people in all sections are needed. We may have some spots to replace some who have decided not to march, or because of lack of money or family conflicts cannot. We want every spot filled. Marching in your Pioneer Corps will change you and build a life time of memories. You asking them may be something that will cause them to remember you forever. Be a friend and do it!



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An interim Board has been formed. We have received, reviewed, and are developing a comprehensive plan to address Drum Corps International's suspension reinstatement terms.

We are seeking individuals who have knowledge, experience, and expertise in the following areas of; administration, education, non profit boards, finance, fund raising, public relations, communications, media, transportation, health and wellness plans, first aid, food service, alumni organizations, and of course, drum corps, to assist in the process of developing policies and procedures specific to these areas.

If you are interested in assisting us, please respond by completing the VOLUNTEER APPLICATION found under the Contribute tab on the Pioneer website. Your information will be given to the appropriate committee. We will contact you shortly. Thank you.


Bingo is sponsored by the Pioneer Corps most Wednesdays at the St. Francis Lions Club located at 3476 E. Howard Ave Saint Francis, WI It begins at 6:30 pm. Every Saturday evening the Pioneer hosts bingo at the United Seniors Center at 4515 W. Forest Home Ave. in Milwaukee. Our Saturday night bingo also begins at 6:30 pm We would very much like to welcome you to come and play bingo, or help us as floor workers, which are especially needed!

Pioneer has met with Drum Corps International to discuss the conditions for reinstatement. Please watch for updates on our site.


Several firsts took place amidst Pioneer’s 57th Corps Banquet:

  • This was the first time the banquet was held on the night of Prelims held at the German Rathskeller in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • We had the highest attendance (165+) ever since we’ve held the banquet in Indianapolis.
  • We were surprised with a great display of flowers donated by Pioneer Alumni Dan Zaja # 1680, and Jenny Cooper #1946. Each age-out received a beautiful corsage in Corps colors, and a nice spray of flowers were set at the speaker’s podium for Sue and Roman Blenski. This was truly a “Class” act on the part of these two Pioneer Alumni.
  • All were treated to a delicious authentic German feast including Weiner schnitzel, stuffed roasted chicken, and German chocolate caked topped with awesome frosting.
  • After the meal, Roman Blenski explained the 50 year system of how results were made from the member’ votes of each other in their section. Staff ratings of member attitude also was considered as well as the members’ valuable attendance records.


VETERAN OF THE YEAR: Chase Ruth #2459 Trumpet
1st Runner Up Ally Farrand #2300 Guard
2nd Runner Up Evan Pliska #2616 Cymbals
Presented by Josh Pier, Pioneer's Visual Caption Head
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Calvin Campos #2707 Trumpet
1st Runner Up: Morgan Boyers #2691 Mellophone
2nd Runner Up:
(3 Way Tie!)
Grace McCoy #2675 Guard
Larry Smith #2731 Snare
Matt Allman #2696 Snare
Presented by Jalissa Bishop, Pioneer's Tour Director
STAFF MEMBER OF THE YEAR: Jamison Washington Guard Tech  
1st Runner Up Zach Hewitt Snare Tech  
2nd Runner Up Ja'Malh Wallace Gaurd Caption  Head  
Presented by Dave Campbell, Pioneer's Program Coordinator
BEST SECTION LEADER Chase Ruth #2459 Trumpet
1st Runner Up Evan Pliska #2616 Cymbals
2nd Runner Up Julie Perez #2413 Mellophone
Presented by Josh Pier, Pioneer's Visual Caption Head

Pioneer Transportation Manager Charity Brooks has been having medical treatments and needs some Pioneer cheer! I am sure that she’d really like to hear from you! So if you’d send her a friend request and message on Facebook, that would be awesome. Just type in CHARITY BROOKS and you can be in contact with her. She is Pioneer family like all of you!

GOOD NEWS! The restoration company who is taking care of our former jacket company who had a bad fire, destroying just about everything, found the hard drives of our embroiderer, Rob Szczech’s ( Pioneer alumnus’) computer. It appears that the Pioneer Jacket designs very well might have been saved (hopefully!). Now we will look for a new embroiderer.

How would you like to have a genuine Irish Dragon Bass Drum Head that was used by our Pioneer Corps’ 2018 Bass Drum Line! We will send you one with your choice of size for $25.00 + shipping. Contact the Pioneer Office if you are interested (414) 327-2847. If there’s no answer at the time you call, just leave a message and we’ll get right back to you! This is a great way to remember your awesome 2018 show!

Eric Haelman, the gentleman who collected your camp fees and dues, says to remind those of you who asked for extra time on paying your summer fees to do so now. Bills need to be paid.


Due to the expected high volume of members arriving at camp, phone numbers to call other than the usual 414-333-2235, call Murray at 414-412-7012 or Sam at 734-934-5706. Please remember that camp begins promptly on Friday at 8:00 PM CDT, and continues through Sunday at 4:00 PM.
Yes, we all have a long way to go home!

Pioneer LL Bean Bags (your summer luggage) will be given out to all 1st year members who have a minimum of the 1st Quarter of their Dues paid. The ladies will get “Sun Flower” colored bags, and men will receive black colored bags. They will have shamrock a shamrock area with a place to put your name and member number. These are your Tour Bags. Other than your sleeping bag, these go in the bus’s luggage bays. The rest will go in your seating area.

You will receive a $100.00 recruitment incentive bonus for each new member who joins because of your recruiting them. They must put your name on their application sheet where it asks how they found out about Pioneer.

This camp is crucial because the size determination of each section will be made, and from this the show’s visual design will be developed.

Pioneer’s Show Designer, Mr. Dave Campbell from Pennsylvania, will be coming to this camp. Please meet him and introduce yourself. This extra-ordinary person will be designing his 4th Pioneer show. He lives in McKee’s Rocks, PA. His Irish roots are obvious!

Don’t wait until Friday to gather up everything you need for camp. Do that now and on Friday all you’ll have to do is grab those things and leave foe camp. Don’t wait until Friday to work on your music. Practice at home. Rehearse what you have practiced at camp.


Better Every Day!


Once again we are invited to perform in the Chicago South Side Irish Parade taking place on Sunday, March 11th. This is the parade’s 37th year in which Pioneer has participated almost every one of those years. Previously we have played in Chicago’s Downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade as well as Milwaukee’s. However, because of the dates of those parades, we choose to do this parade which falls right in line with our March Camp date. While the South Side Chicago Parade is a fund-raiser, it is also a cultural experience. It is also our first uniformed outside performance of our 2018 Season.

The parade begins at 12:00 pm, lining up on 103rd and Western Avenue. Our Pioneer Corps will be featured at the end of the parade, which will also be televised throughout the Chicago area via Cable TV. It is a very large parade featuring a lot of want-to-be Irish people. Also it is amazing the amount of police watching and participating. There will be area drum corps members and staffs from the area getting their first glimpse of Pioneer.

After the parade, the corps will enjoy a provided Five Star Brown-Bagged Lunch, and for the occasion you will be treated to a genuine Irish Green Shamrock Shake! Be it rain, snow, or wind, the parade always goes on!

We will have the usual Pioneer bus drop offs at both Chicago’s O’Hare and Milwaukee’s Mitchell airports. Most likely you will arrive much earlier at these places than the usual 6:00 pm.

Members are asked to bring their Black Shoes & Black Socks. Be sure to memorize our parade tunes, (Garry Owen March & Stars & Stripes Forever), both are short and not at all difficult.



With your help, we have the opportunity to man the Pioneer Recruiting Booth at the WGI’s World Championships in Dayton, Ohio. It takes place from on the following Dates:



Pioneer will pay for your food and lodging, as well as some gas expense. This will a great opportunity to be exposed to a lot of new eager recruits. There will also be many guard and percussion instructors interested in sending their students our way. It will also earn you some patches to put on your corps jacket.



This season we are expecting to field a larger corps, larger than the past years. This will require more helping hands as well. It has been suggested by some members who are a bit short on their tour fees that some family members would be available to help, earning off some portion of the fee by helping serve food, drive a bus or truck, repair props, repair uniforms, etc. This would be a big help for Spring Training, when we do not travel much, or on Tour, even for a day or two, or even a couple of weeks. The parents will enjoy being with the corps and working a daily portion of the summer fee off of what their son or daughter might owe.

We will still look for volunteers, but if this can help to benefit members have an awesome summer experience, why not!

HERE’S THE DEAL! Talk to Roman Blenski or to Sam Karafotis with a calendar and let’s see where we can be of help to each other and the corps.



We are saddened by the passing of Mr. Johnny Lonzaga last week. He and his family were all part of the Pioneer in the 1990’s. His wife, Patty, was the Food Manager. His son, John, marched in the drum line and Melissa and Valerie performed in the Color Guard. Johnny was a steady coach bus driver whose humor and Hawaiian origins were all part of his easy-going mannerisms. The corps sent green & white flowers, honoring Johnny, one of our first and finest gentlemen.



In memory of our Irish heritage, Mr. John Schoenknecht (#444) has donated some Kelly Green T-Shirts for you!



Mr. Zak Brown (#1584) who will be helping out with the Front Ensemble during a busy WGI weekend. He is an excellent percussionist, a talented chef, and one of the finest instrument repairmen in the business!



Jordan Wood (Drummer) who is the leading Pioneer SOPY recipient with 14 donations!!! Also right behind her doing well are Shawn Lee (#2654) and Wade Freeland.



Audition try-outs will be held at the April Camp for an Assistant Drum Major and for two Conductors. The Drum Major position does require a multi-year commitment. Conductors are for this coming 2018 season. Opportunities to become a leader (by example) of extraordinary human beings for several summers. This is a rare opportunity, and if you are interested, be sure to contact any staff member or Roman Blenski. Conductors will be backfield or front side, have responsibilities for various pieces of equipment, and also frequently asked for information about the corps and its daily schedule. Interested people for any of these position should call 414-333-2235.



If you have email addresses of any former members or a person who you think might be interested in donating some money to our Electronic Sound Department, Pioneer alumnus and Sound Engineer, Robert McCowan (#2426) is looking for people to donate money to purchase electronic items that we need. The ever-evolving world of electronics in drum corps is requiring greater use of specialty electronic equipment, and we are in need. Many items can be purchased through Amazon. Please, any leads of donors for this projects will be very much appreciated. Contact ROBERT MCCOWAN at his email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Our Food department is in need of a leader. Our leader of the past few seasons, Mrs. Daphne Allen, is retiring, and Peter Biletzky has moved out of the area to Northern Wisconsin. Both of these fine people have served us extremely well and they deserve a break. Hopefully they will still, on occasion, be around. We are in great need of someone to take on this awesome task. Interested parties please contact the Pioneer Office: 414-327-2847.



March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, is the deadline for the $200.00 Discount on your Tour Fee, if it is paid in full, on or before this date. Again, Pay Pal has costly charges added on in addition to your tour fee payment! If you insist on using Pay Pal, make sure that you add the charges to the amount you are paying.