The Crossmen are a junior drum corps based in San Antonio, Texas. The Crossmen are members of Drum Corps International and they compete within DCI Division I. The corps, along with The Cadets, are sponsored by Youth Education in the Arts. The Crossmen are directed by Mark Chambers.
The Crossmen were formed in 1974 as a merger of two smaller corps, the 507 Hornets and Keystone Regiment, in suburban Philadelphia. They were originally known as the Delaware County Crossmen.The corps' name was the winning selection of a naming contest among corps members. The 507 Hornets had been sponsored by the American Legion Post 507 which was named in honor of John Wesley Cross. The Crossmen were thus eventually named for a war hero. In addition, the group saw themselves as a "cross" between the two original corps. Harold Robinson and Charles Brenneke were leaders of the early Crossmen. Sponsors included American Legion John Wesley Cross Post No. 507, Norwood, and American Legion Manoa Post No. 667 of Manoa, Pennsylvania.
The Crossmen first took the field in 1975 and eventually came to own the Eastern States Circuit championship, winning in seven consecutive appearances (1975-81).
The Crossmen appear to have had various homes. They were affiliated with West Chester State University in 1988, and were in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, in 1993.
The corps has been ranked among the elite top 12 DCI corps 22 times in 29 years of competition, including 2004 when the 118-member group finished 11th in Finals competition with a show called 'E Pluribus Unum.' Their highest recent finish was sixth, in 1997.
Bones is a character who appears before the Crossmen at select performances throughout the summer. He is dressed in the original long ankle-length red-lined cape. The uniform is the late 70's black version with the large red and white stripes criss-crossing the chest. Look for him to make a sudden appearance up in the back side stands to the fans' delight as the Crossmen take the field in most regional DCI shows. The crowd roars as he extends his cape out to a full red flush. With his face covered by a skeleton mask, Bones' true identity remains a mystery, yet Bones remains a stalwart reminder of the corps' tradition.
Age Out Crosses
Thanks to the efforts of Donna (Crowell) Reedy at the Allentown picnics, and the very generous donations of some dedicated alumni, every age-out member of the Crossmen has been given a special white cross for their final performance as members of the corps. In the past, members of the brass and percussion sections replaced the red crosses on their aussies with the white ones. However, replacing them actually damaged the aussies and the expense of replacing the red ones become an issue. All age-out members now receive a white cross on a necklace, which can be worn at anytime.
As every Crossmen member and alum knows, the cross has such special meaning. And this very special keepsake has become a great way for members to look back and remember how amazing their final summer with the Crossmen was. The friendships, the performances, the cheers, and the tears. All symbolized in one beautifully crafted cross that the age-out can keep forever.
Spirit Equipment Truck Incident
Spirit of Atlanta and Crossmen played for each other after their first show of the 1979 tour in South Dakota, forming a bond immediately. Then they headed further west together. Spirit's buses got far ahead of the convoy. Their equipment truck was blown off the road and the truck/trailer rolled twice and crashed the cab. Luckily, the drivers only suffered a broken rib and some injured fingers. A wrecker was just about to pull the wreckage to the road, which would have destroyed nearly all of the equipment. Just then, the Crossmen buses pulled up and Robby Robinson asked for 10 minutes, during which he instructed his corps to "pick it clean." They did just that, taking the equipment into the aisles of their own buses for safe keeping. Out of more than $80,000 of equipment, damages came to only $1,900.
Later on down the road, Spirit was reuinted with their equipment, and a rental truck was aquired to haul it... which later had to be replaced.
As tour progressed, Crossmen started losing their buses one by one. One bus died in Utah, forcing Crossmen to cram members onto the 3 remaining buses, and Spirit took the overload. The second bus went in California and those members rode with Spirit all the way to Denver. Then, one of the two remaining buses died, the corps missed a show in Pueblo and slowly drove into Denver for Drums Along the Rockies.
Since then, there has been a large amount of good will between the two corps. They often play combined music following their home drum corps shows. At the end of every tour, each corps gives to one of its members an award honoring the other corps.
Tommy Lee Maddox, a 1979 Spirit member said of the incident:
"I was on that ride way back in'79. We were beginning to get our 'contest teeth' that year as opposed to being the naive bunch that we were in 77 and 78. We began to look at other corps as opponents that we had to drop, along with the notion that we were to have fun along the way (which we did).
Then we were heading down from Hot Springs, SD, to Stockton, CA, when the equipment truck got blown off the road. X-Men picked up the pieces and helped us move on down the road. Then, when their buses died, we'd pile them on with us. It was a strange growth process for all of us.
Then, in 1980, a couple of days after Jim Ott died on the road, we had our last show of first tour in Centerville, Ohio. Top spots were us and Crossmen. We, as a group, were pretty worthless and just plain wore out. We did the show that night and even got to play the other corps onto the field for retreat. The drum section played Jimmy Buffet's "Volcano" as the entry music. We were all so slap happy that we just sang along as the other corps paraded onto the field.
So the scores were announced...then he got to second place...paused...and announced that there was a tie between us and Crossmen. We all hollered and cried and rejoiced that our friends had not beat us and that we were going home.
It turned out, so I understand, that Crossmen had won the show by a tenth or so, but Robbie Robinson told them to make it a tie. Us, and our busmates, were a happy clan either way.
Drum corps is a good thing. I am so happy and proud to be part of a good thing."
Here is the article which was printed in "Youth On the March" show in Alton, IL (July 10, 1980).
"Crossmen" Found a "Spirit"....of Friendship
A strong bond of friendship grew last summer between two championship drum & bugle corps who helped each other survive a long trip to California.
The Crossmen from Delaware County, PA and the Spirit of Atlanta from Atlanta, GA literally became one corps off the competition field. They battled hardships, not unlike those faced by early pioneers who settled in the West.
Before heading westward on their own, the two corps had competed in drum corps shows with a half-dozen other corps in eastern and mid-western states.
By the time they returned to their home states, the Crossmen had lost three of four buses and Spirit went through three equipment trucks.
Both corps worked together to over come one setback after another during the three-week tour. Freddy Martin, director of the Atlanta corps, said, "For me, the comradeship that grew between the kids in the two corps was the most meaningful part of the entire summer."
Looking back on the experience, Harold "Robbie" Robinson, director of the Crossmen said, "For the first time in my 27 years in drum corps, I finally felt something in drum corps that I always wanted. I knew we helped them in their hour of need, and they saved the day for us many times in return."
Martin said, "We had to be of help to each other to survive. It was a long trip." the close relationship began late one night in Hot Springs, S.D. the site of the first show on the tour westward.
Crossmen and Spirit were the only members of DCI (the world's top 25 ranked corps) in the show.
"The two corps were out in the middle of nowhere," Robinson said. "We felt then it was going to be a "survival thing" so we might as well have a good relationship."
The corps competed to a crowd of approx. 4,000 people in Hot Springs. After the show, the sponsors left the lights on in the stadium so the corps could perform to each other.
Rarely do corps members get the opportunity to see another corps' show from the concert side of the stands.
"Spirit put on their show and the Crossmen went wild," Robinson remembered "We clapped, joked back and forth and, in general showed our appreciation for their talents.
Then the Crossmen went on the field and did a show for the Spirit kids. After that it was a jam session - the two drum lines got together and played and the two horn lines played. We lingered for about an hour and had a great time.
The next day, both corps headed for California with a planned intermediate stop in Salt Lake City, Utah.
But nothing went as planned.
The two corps traveled together in a massive 14-vehicle convoy of buses, equipment trucks, souvenir vans, trailers and a cooking coach.
Before leaving South Dakota, of the Spirit's bus drivers, "Disco Duck," radioed to Robinson: "Hey Crossmen control, this here is the Disco Duck. We're going to boogie on down the road here."
Robinson answered: "Well you go on. I'm not going to put the pedal to the metal as we might blow our engines. We've got a long way to go on these old babies."
He said the Crossmen buses weren't as new and fast as Sprit's buses, but generally they managed to keep within 20 or 30 miles of each other.
The Spirit buses carrying all of their corps members went ahead of the corps' equipment truck, booster van and the Crossmen caravan.
It was about 10:30 a.m. on June 30. Winds were gusting 40-45 miles an hour across the two lane road, flanked by 15-foot embankments.
Martin said he was riding in the van behind the equipment truck, when suddenly the 13 ½ foot truck literally got blown off of the road. It turned over twice and landed upside down, completely smashing the cab.
"You couldn't even tell it was a truck," Martin said, "Five of us got out of the van. I remembered most vividly telling them to see the two drivers were okay. The top of the cab was completely flattened.
When we got there, the driver was crawling out of the cab. I figured the other driver was dead. He had been sleeping behind the cab.
Fortunately, however, the driver, Paul Clayborn, suffered only a broken rib. The second driver, Jim Clark who was sleeping when the accident occurred, was not seriously injured but almost lost a few fingers.
Martin took the injured drivers to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Robinson had dozed off to sleep for the first time in nearly two days. His wife Charlotte was driving and woke Robinson when they approached the accident.
"I saw a truck up ahead but couldn't make it out right away," he said. "All of a sudden, I saw drum corps equipment over the place."
"We pulled up and I hopped out. I didn't know it but the accident had happened about 15 minutes earlier and a wrecker was there.
The wrecker was about to pull the truck up onto the road. Had he done this, everything would have been destroyed. He would have had to drag the truck over drums and horns. There were three or four Spirit woman trying to pull uniforms out of the wreck."
The Crossmen buses filled with 128 corps members stopped.
"The kids were hanging out the windows with tears running down their faces," Robinson said. "They had started to generate such feelings toward each other the night before in Hot Springs. The kids were thinking, what if that would have been their equipment? What is Spirit going to do??
The driver of the wrecker told Robinson he had to remove the wreck and was going to pull the equipment truck back onto the roadway.
"Give me 10 minutes," Robinson told the driver. He turned to the buses and shouted, "Everybody off the buses and pick this wreck clean!"
The corps members climbed out of the buses. The Crossmen drivers and the entire traveling crew helped gather the equipment.
"They are unbelievable," Robinson said. "The kids ripped open the rest of the truck. It was an instinctive thing. The drummers went for the drums. The color guard went for the flags and uniforms and the horn lone went looking for horns.
The kids took the drums, like they were handling a baby. They took them very gingerly and set them in the aisles of their buses. They put towels, pillows and sleeping bags around them so they wouldn't get scratched. There was gas leaking all over the place I warned everyone not to light a match."
Before long, the Crossmen had picked the wreck clean. When Martin returned, he was handed a box of nuts and bolts the Crossmen members had gathered from the grass. Not one bolt turned up missing!
Out of more than $80,000 in equipment, the total damage came to $1,900, Martin said.
"We had a couple horns ruined, a cracked bass drum and a couple of uniforms damaged, but nothing major," he said. "We went on the rest of the tour and borrowed a bass drum and a pair of cymbals." About 20 miles from the accident, the Spirit buses had pulled to a rest stop where they were met later by Crossmen members.
"Together the corps members took equipment off the Crossmen buses and wiped everything down. We changed a couple of drum head, evaluated the damage, put a lot of the equipment back on our truck and carried it into Salt Lake City where Freddie (Martin) rented a truck," Robinson remarked.
The hazards of the trip, as it turned out had just begun.
The next day, July 1, the corps left for California.
It was in Wendover, Utah, where one of the Crossmen's buses broke down. "The bus is still sitting there in Wendover," said Robinson. "Oddly enough, a Spirit bus got a flat tire not 50 yards in front of us when our bus broke down hopelessly. They put all of their kids on their two other buses and sent them to McDonald's about 50 miles down the road.
The driver of the bus with the flat tire, it just so happened, was the Disco Duck. He changed the tire, took the rest of the Crossmen members and we all rendezvoused at McDonald's. We split up our kids on our three remaining buses and on the California we went."
The Crossmen lost their second bus in California when the clutch went out.
The director of a California corps, the DCI Champion Blue Devils from Concord, sent one of his buses to pick up the stranded Crossmen members.
Robinson said for the long trip home, "Freddie (Martin) brought three of his buses to the school where we were staying and we put about nine or ten of our kids on each one. He hauled 33 of our kids all the way back to Denver."
Down to two buses, the Crossmen's string of bad luck still wasn?t over. Just outside of Needles, Calif. Robinson got a call from the driver of the second bus:
Robinson knew something was wrong.
"What's the matter?"....Robinson
"I've got no air pressure."....driver
Luckily, however, Robinson had packed a generator in the Crossmen equipment truck and was able to repair the problem himself. The caravan, minus tow buses continued.
"We blew a hose in Apache Wells, N.M. but got that fixed. That was simple" he said. "But, then all of a sudden, we started getting flat tires. We started with new tires. That's one thing I won?t take a chance with.
About 100 miles north of Apache Wells, we had a double blowout and by this time we had gone through every spar tire. The kids were frustrated, but they knew I was just as frustrated. They tried to cheer me up and Charlotte was always telling me to calm down, that we'd get everything straightened out.
In fact, at one point, an Amtrak train went by and the kids tried to thumb it down to make the Pueblo show that night. The train just blew its horn" said Robinson.
The most horrifying experience was yet to happen. When the bus was jacked-up to change the last tires, the jack slipped and the bus nearly landed on top of Robinson!
"That's the closest I'd ever come to being killed in all my life. I shot out from underneath that bus like a rocket when I heard it starting to go," he said.
Once the tire was replaced, the two buses hobbled for the next 100 miles at about 20 miles an hour.
The corps never made it to the Pueblo show.
"When we got into Denver, everyone just took a deep breath and went to sleep," Robinson said. "I had been up about 80 hours straight.
When I got to the Denver show that night, I must have looked like death warmed over. Don Pesceonoe [Executive Director of DCI] walked up and looked at me and took my hand like a baby. There must have been six inches of grease on my hand and my fingernails had disappeared."
"My God, what are we doing to each other? Are you all right?" Pesceone asked.
Robinson smiled and said, "Yeah, sure! This is great."
The rest of the Crossmen's trip home was relatively quiet.
"Too many people think of DCI as on the competitiveness, which it is, but this experience is what I want out of drum corps. Sure I want a good drum corps and the kids do too, but they've learned to help their fellow man and in turn, were repaid that favor many times over. The kids will never forget that experience," said Robbie.
The Spirit of Atlanta staff members will never forget the trip west either.
"Our corps is a relatively new corps, being only three years old," Martin said. "The trip was a growing experience for the kids. They learned to cope with problems and share with others."
At the Spirit of Atlanta annual banquet last fall, one member was presented an awarded for being the most dependable and helpful corps member.
The award - to given annually - was named "The Crossmen Award."
2004 & 2005 Bonds With Spirit
During the 2004 season, the Crossmen grew close to their comrades in Spirit. At DCI World Championships in Denver, CO the Crossmen represented on the field on finals night. However, Spirit barely missed finals finishing 13th place. During finals retreat, the Crossmen contra section made a delta (Spirit's insignia) on the field.
The 2005 season was a competitive struggle for the Crossmen. By the end, the Crossmen missed DCI Finals for the first time in 17 years. Bones placed 13th in quarters and 14th in Semis. As a tribute to the class the 2004 and 2005 Crossmen showed to Spirit, the Spirit hornline honored the Crossmen with a Cross on the field during Finals retreat in Foxboro, MA. The Spirit horns used all 4 hours of their rehearsal time on finals day to perfect the giant maltese cross made of contras, baris, mellos, and trumpets. This effort was headed by Spirit's Brass Caption, Jimmy Steele, who is now the Crossmen Brass Caption Head for the 2006 season.
Crossmen Appear In DCI's Classic Countdown 2006
On Thursday, April 27th, 2006, Bones Nation was out in full force as the 1992 corps made the cut. Chosen by an online poll of over 7,000 drum corps fans, the full list of performances included the following:
1975 27th Lancers 1979 Blue Devils 1980 Bridgemen 1984 Garfield Cadets 1988 Madison Scouts 1989 Phantom Regiment 1992 Crossmen 1993 Star of Indiana 1995 Cavaliers 1999 Santa Clara Vanguard 2004 Carolina Crown 2005 Bluecoats
These corps shows were shown in theaters across the nation with Bones making a strong first appearance in the 2nd Annual Classic Countdown.
The 1992 Crossmen show, entitled "Songs For Planet Earth," was a show that connected with many drum corps fans over the years, gaining an almost cult-like following. So much so that to many fans, alumni, and current members, this is arguably the greatest Crossmen show ever fielded.
A sublime brass section, a wonderfully integrated color guard and visual program, and quite simply one of the most intense and "grooving" drumlines to ever grace the field, this show had a lot for drum corps fans to like. The judges liked it, too. It may have taken all season, but on the last day of the year, the corps vaulted past the Phantom Regiment and finished in the top 6 at DCI Finals. Both were first-time accomplishments in Crossmen history. The corps finished with a 92.2, which was also (at the time) a Crossmen record high.
- Youth Education in the Arts
- US Marine Corps
- Fred J. Miller, colorguard uniforms and equipment
- Remo drumheads
- Vic Firth, sticks and mallets
- Music Travel consultants
- Dinkles marching shoes
- Sibelius music notation software