In memoriam — Col. Truman W. Crawford

Current U.S. Marine Corps drum and bugle corps director
Brian Dix (left) and former director Truman Crawford (Photo by Harry Heidelmark, 2000)

Col. Truman W. Crawford, 68, retired director of the U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps in Washington, D.C., passed away March 3, in Hershey, PA. He had been dealing with the effects of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) for the past year. He was a member of both the DCI Hall of Fame and the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

His drum and bugle corps career began at age eight in his hometown of Endicott, NY, when he joined a local fife and drum corps. In the early 1960s, he directed the U.S. Air Force Drum & Bugle Corps at Bolling Field in Washington, D.C. After retiring from the Air Force and spending the mid-1960s in Chicago working with the Royal Airs, he joined the U.S. Marines and became director of the “Commandant’s Own” also in Washington. He retired in 1998 after 30 years in the Marine Corps.

Over the last four and a half decades, Crawford taught, arranged for and advised countless junior, senior and alumni drum and bugle corps. His stirring arrangements are some of the most memorable in the history of the activity.

One of his greatest achievements came when the Chicago Royal Airs won the three major championships in 1965 at the American Legion and VFW National Conventions and at the CYO Nationals.

When the Royal Airs reformed as a reunion corps in 2002, he instructed and then conducted at several performances, including their appearance at the Drum Corps Associates Championships last Labor Day weekend in Scranton, PA.

Another highlight of his career was the three years he served as drum major and arranger for the Yankee Rebels from Baltimore, MD. The corps won three American Legion senior titles in 1969, 1970 and 1971 under his instruction and direction with a show that included the famous “Requium For an Era” production.

The scheduled tribute banquet in Hershey, PA, on the weekend of March 21-23 will go on as planned, according to Joel Leson, current director of the Yankee Rebels alumni corps in Baltimore, MD, and one of the organizers of the event. Special music by a number of prominent arrangers in the activity will be performed by the Yankee Rebels and members of the Royal Airs at the banquet.

There will be a memorial service later in March at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.