USMC and USAF join Royal Airs in honoring the memory of ‘drum corps great’

by Colleen Devitt Karuza

Members of the United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force will join the Chicago Royal Airs in a flag presentation ceremony honoring the memory of the late Col. Truman W. Crawford — a musical pioneer often referred to as the “John Philip Sousa of drum & bugle corps.” Crawford passed away March 3 from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The local ceremony will be held March 15, at 9:30 AM at Bednarcik Junior High School in Oswego, IL.

Crawford gained national and international prominence as musical director of three of America’s greatest drum and bugle corps — the Chicago Royal Airs, the Marine Corps’ “Commandant’s Own” and the Air Force’s drum and bugle corps. Crawford revolutionized drum & bugle corps music by introducing his own spirited, jazz-based arrangements that literally broke (and buried forever!) the mold of the traditional “marching band-style” music that characterized drum corps in the 1950s.

During the ceremony, members of the Marines, led by 1st Sgt. Campbell, will present both the USMC and USAF flags to those members of the Chicago Royal Airs who served in either military branch. These veterans will, in turn, present the flags to the color guard of the Chicago Royal Airs, who will carry them proudly as a permanent memorial to their former musical director/arranger and beloved friend and mentor. Campbell will make remarks, and the Chicago Royal Airs will play Taps and Abide with Me.

This flag presentation was made possible through the extraordinary efforts of retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jack Kotter on behalf of the Chicago Royal Airs. All active and former members of the USMC and USAF, as well as past and present members of any drum & bugle corps, are invited to attend this fitting memorial for “one of their own.”

The Chicago Royal Airs Drum & Bugle Corps has dedicated its 2003 season to Col. Crawford.