U.S. Naval Academy Drum & Bugle Corps
Flashing swords, brass buttons and drum rolls of a spring parade are just some of the many traditions that have marked over 150 years at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Strains of ‘Anchors Aweigh‘ and similar numbers played by the Naval Academy's Drum and Bugle Corps set the cadence for the 89-man Brigade of Midshipmen then - just as they do today.
History of this organization dates from l9l4 when the first appearance of the all-midshipman Drum and Bugle Corps was made. Midshipman R.W. Cary led his 16 members through a baseball game performance between St. John's college of Annapolis and the Naval Academy. The midshipmen quickly took to the idea of a D&B Corps as evidenced by the fact that the next year and for seven years thereafter, a Corps of approximately 59 men functioned to the delight of all hands.
The organization went out of existence in January 1922 when then Superintendent Henry B. Hilson deemed the Drum and Bugle Corps a "luxury not a necessity" and abolished the “Bugle squad." The Corps remained defunct until early 1926 when two midshipmen persuaded Admiral Louis M. Nulton and Captain Sinclair Gannon, then Superintendent and Commandant, to allow them to drum the midshipmen Drum and Bugle Corps back into shape. Reorganized with 45 men "30 of them being buglers and 15 of them being drummers," the Corps was a success and formally re-established in April, 1926.
The succeeding years brought forth bigger and better Corps, each trying to outdo the one before. In the late '39s, according to one report, "it was an impressive sight to see the Drum and Bugle Corps then known affectionately as ‘The Hell Cats‘ swinging out on the field in full dress with the white cross-belts shining out against the blue of their uniforms, their precision marching and music providing the lift and rhythm to the tired feet of the regiment." They were a cocky outfit, snappy on the field, comrades off it and ever proud of their organization.
As the rumblings of war grew loud in 1941, Admiral Hilson Brown, then Superintendent, decided that ‘the seriousness of the future life of midshipmen should be impressed upon the regiment. In keeping with his "strip-for-action bill," the Drum and Bugle Corps was jettisoned, and with it the splendor of dress parades. The byword was no longer pomp and the Drum and Bugle Corps was retired with such other extras as dressing for dinner, five-day weeks and new cars. By September 1945, the D&B Corps, never a group to be down for long, was again in the process of being organized and ordered 25 tenor bugles, five baritones, 18 field drums, and two scotch drums.
The D&B Corps was effectively reinstated at the Naval Academy and was officially incorporated as a unit of the Brigade organization on March 16, 1946. In a brigade order announcing this event, the executive officer stated that the Corps’ duties were to "participate in Brigade functions" which were to "play the Brigade into Bancroft Hall at noon and evening meal formations and to supplement the Naval Academy Band in the following respects: in playing marching music for the Brigade prior to Chapel, in furnishing music for the Brigade parades and in furnishing music for the line of march when the Brigade is functioning as a unit away from the Naval Academy."
The renovated Corps was composed of some 49 members. all experienced players - many of whom were war veterans - and was acclaimed for the fine martial music they provided for midshipmen activities. The Naval Academy midshipmen Drum and Bugle Corps has continued to endure and proudly supports the Brigade of Midshipmen. The present Corps performs over 60 times a year at parades, formations, football games, festivals, shows, and military functions across the nation.
The Navy D&B is currently compiling a database of former members, with the hope of hosting alumni events. With sufficient interest, we hope to host alumni reunions and tailgaters, as well as notify alumni when the corps is performing nearby. If you marched with the Naval Academy Drum & Bugle Corps, please email the following information to the corps director, Mr. Jeff Weir.
We are also always looking for photos and memorabilia from previous years! Please do not hesitate to send us your favorites!
Mr. Jeff Weir - Corps Director
Mr. Rich DeCapio - Assistant Director / Percussion Caption Head
Mr. Derek Stults - Front Ensemble Instructor
Mr. Todd Clontz - Brass Instructor
Mr. Chris Previc - Visual Instructor
Mr. Michael Harrison - Percussion Consultant
Mr. Cameron Willey - Percussion Consultant
MUC Matthew Manturuk - Front Ensemble Consultant/Arranger
MU1 Kevin Meyer - Front Ensemble Consultant
GySgt Marcos Baeza, USMC - Senior Enlisted Advisor
Capt Kevin Boyce, USMC - Officer Representative
Ms. Stephanie Woodall - Department Coordinator
Dr. Aaron Smith - Director of Musical Activities
Additional information on purchasing Naval Academy CD's will be provided soon. CD's available on the Naval Academy Store: http://www.navyonline.com
Please check back again soon!
The U.S. Naval Academy Drum & Bugle Corps is an activity for midshipmen (matriculated students) at the Naval Academy, which is a four year undergraduate university. If you are interested in auditioning for the Naval Academy Drum & Bugle Corps, you must first apply and receive an appointment to the Naval Academy. Information on that process can be found at the Naval Academy’s Admissions Department homepage.
Midshipman interested in participating in the Drum & Bugle Corps should contact the corps director, Mr. Jeff Weir, preferably via email. Prior experience on brass or percussion is helpful, but certainly not required.
Sample audition materials are available by clicking the links below.
United States Naval Academy
Drum & Bugle Corps
Mailing Address: Alumni Hall, 675 Decatur Rd. Annapolis, MD 21402-5086
Phone Number: (410) 293-3602
Fax Number: (410) 293-4508
Mr. Jeff Weir, Drum & Bugle Corps Director
To request a performance by the U.S. Naval Academy Drum & Bugle Corps, please fill out this form. When complete, fax or email the form to the corps director. We generally plan our schedule at least 12 months in advance.
Before requesting a performance, please note:
- The corps is only active during the “academic calendar” from September to May. We are not active during the summer months.
- We are required to favor events that support the mission of the Naval Academy.
- There is no fee to have the corps perform. However, if dates conflict between multiple requests, we generally favor the most cost effective options.
- All requests are reviewed by the corps staff before being forwarded to the Director of Musical Activities and the Commandant of Midshipmen for approval.