The original Oregon Crusaders was founded in 1971 by brothers David and Ron Jones, ages 15 and 16, who had previously participated in the Seattle Sentinels and the Imperial Cadets. They wanted to have a Willamette Valley drum corps and originally wanted it to be named the “First Militia Oregon Crusaders” after the historical First Militia of Oregon, but only “Oregon Crusaders” stuck as a name. They attended West Linn High School, had the strong support of their parents and drew 40 kids that first year, mostly from West Linn and Oregon City. The brothers’ dedication was matched by their skill in performance; David was Oregon State rifle twirling champion in 1971.
That 1971 corps included only drumline and colorguard, with 15-year-old David serving as Corps Director and Ron as composer, arranger and drill designer. Unfortunately, their bus broke down in Roseburg, Oregon, on their way to their only competition that summer – an indoor colorguard competition to be held in Watsonville, California. They had to cancel their only planned competition, and thus ended the very first year of the Oregon Crusaders.
David and Ron bounced back in 1972 and with the help of their father secured a large donation from the Dickinson’s Gourmet Preserves company, now owned by Smuckers. The Dickinson’s chairman, Mr. Phillips, had a son who joined OC as a baritone player, and helped to provide a donation that bought two buses that season. Painted blue to match their blue uniforms with its white cross, and in the spirit of the newly renamed “Dickinson’s Oregon Crusaders,” the buses were named “Pacific Mountain Strawberry” and “Willamette Blackberry.”
By 1973, the group had grown and merged with the Imperial Cadets to field a corps of 115 members. But by 1974 the groups split and OC went its own way once again. In those early days OC was one of the first drum corps to do extended touring beyond the Northwest region, traveling to Alberta, Calgary, Edmonton and Northern California.
David and Ron have both been involved with OC since those early days, with David’s son Scott performing with the 2004 corps in the front ensemble and Ron lending his compositional skills to the 2003 show, co-arranging their show “Mysterious Mountain.” David is now a member of OC’s Board of Directors
Ron Jones married Laree Kenzel, a Milwaukee (Oregon) student and an OC member, and has since become a music celebrity, with three Emmy nominations and a Grammy nomination for his compositional work which includes The Family Guy, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Ducktails, among many others. See his IMDB Page. Ron performs with the renowned Influence Jazz Orchestra, is the founder of a worldwide music education company called Compose Yourself, and currently resides in LA with his wife Laree.
David Jones is the founder of a large premium travel service based in Texas and continues to follow OC with great interest. Both David and Ron attribute their career choices to their early drum corps experience; Ron with composition and Dave with getting the buses from point A to point B.
As the years went by and Ron and David aged out, the corps went dormant, but the designation “Crusaders” was again picked up in 1999 by Rick Wise who, re-founded what was then called the “Southern Oregon Crusaders” based out of Medford, Oregon. Dan Perry was also instrumental in this re-starting of the Oregon Crusaders.
2004 OC in Riverside
Bill Perkins relocated the corps to the Portland Metro area in 2002 and officially renamed the corps the “Oregon Crusaders” after the original Clackamas-based corps. Interestingly, Bill marched in the Sunsetters when Ron and David Jones were starting the original Oregon Crusaders.
In this era of OC, OC won the Division III championship in 2004 with their production “Metro Metal”, in 2005 performed “Sands of Time” and two years later received fourth place in the Division II Drum Corps International World Championships for their show “Echo.”
In 2007 the corps was “re-founded” once again, this time by Dr. Phil Marshall, Jeff Bush, Travis Moddison, and Mike Quillen. OC built a whole new staff and style with their show “Gates,” garnering a 5th place finish. Success continued in 2008 with their show “Inner Connections,” placing 4th in the newly combined Open Class. The following year OC placed as a DCI Open Class Finalist with their show “Equilibrium.” In 2010, OC received its highest placement ever of 2nd place in Open Class and their highest score in corps history (94.0) for their show “Dance of the Flames.”
In 2011, the corps again drew upon the creative talents of Todd Zimbelman, Travis Moddison, and JC Caceres, and added some new talent with Charlotte Morrow as they embarked on their ambitious 2011 program entitled “The Blue Hour.” Marching 114 members, the corps nearly captured the Open Class title with the highest score in its history (94.7), and received high brass, high visual performance, and Director of the Year was awarded to OC’s Mike Quillen. The corps then went to Indy, where it competed in World Class for the first time, achieving 18th best overall horn line, and receiving a score of 75.15.
In the summer of 2012, the Oregon Crusaders once again pushed the boundaries of the drum corps art form with their program “Dreaming in Color.” With the movement of color to color, from one dreamy trance-like phase to another, the drum corps’ activity predominated in visual ensemble artistry. The result was an undefeated year and the organization’s first Open Class World Championship with a score of 95.25, along with high brass, high visual performance, and high general effect. The corps went on to achieve 19th in World Class competition with a score of 77.45.
In 2013 the corps was awarded the ability to perform with the elite DCI World Class before it officially became World Class in 2014. In 2013 the corps performed “My Heart, My Battle, My Soul” including Adele’s Rollin in the Deep along with House of the Rising Sun. The corps placed 17th with a score of 81.05.
In 2014 the corps performed “Nevermore” to the backdrop of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”. It featured Vienna Teng’s “Hymn of Acxiom”. Ian Flint joined the organization as Program Coordinator. The corps finished 19th with a score of 80.1.
In 2015 the corps added Bradley Kerr Green and Alex Blue on brass staff and Addison Kaeterle on colorguard. The corps performed “Midnight Garden” including music from the Disney film “Cinderella”. The corps finished 17th with a score of 78.55.
In 2016 the corps added Adam Sage as Artistic Director. They performed “Hunted” with “Who wants to live forever?” by Queen, along with Bjork’s “Hunter” and “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse. The corps finished 18th with a score of 79.725.
In 2017 the corps performed their show EnCompass, scoring 79.050 and placing 20th, and in 2018 they performed their show RedRum, scoring 77.10 and placing 22nd.
And that was that. So long and thanks for all the fish.