Our History

The Oregon Crusaders may seem like a recent phenomenon, but OC has a history larger than you might think.  The organization has restarted at least 5 times, most recently in 2007 under the management and direction of Dr. Phil Marshall, Mike Quillen, Jeff Bush and Travis Moddison.  But while the “Little Team from Oregon” you see today grew from those modest 2007 roots, our prior chapters tell a larger tale of drum corps in Oregon, dating back to 1971.  It was at that time that David and Ron Jones, only 15 and 16 years old, decided to start a drum corps called the Oregon Crusaders.  David and Ron went on to do wonderful things in their lives, and they remain close to the OC organization today.  Yet more chapters of OC were driven by extremely generous people, from Rick Wise with the help of Dan Perry restarted the Southern Oregon Crusaders, and Bill Perkins who returned the group to Portland in 2002.  The history of our organization is about people – all who have heroically devoted a portion of their lives to making this organization great.  Can we hear a hallelujah?!

The Story That Continues to Build, One Chapter at a Time

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 Mike Stevens and 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 added Tim Snyder as Brass Caption Head, Jodie Rhodes as Program Coordinator and Dr. Chris Whyte as Music Coordinator.

And now World Class, the pinnacle of marching music in the world

For the 2013 season, the corps has achieved World Class status from Drum Corp International. With the addition of 

Visual Caption Supervisor Mike Fanning, along with numerous other talents to the design and instructional team, the corps dazzled audiences with its 2013 program “My Heart. My Battle. My Soul.” told the story of love, loss and longing set in the south, with selections to include Going Home, Summertime, House of the Rising Sun, Adelle’s Rollin in the Deep, and Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho. The corps ended up in 17th, achieving its highest score in corps history of 81.05. 

In 2014, the corps announced that for the first time ever, it will be marching the maximum-allowed 150 members, with an 80 member brass line. The 2014 program “Nevermore” loosely based upon Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”, was again designed by Travis Moddison, Chris Whyte Mike Stevens, JC Caceres, and Todd Zimbelman. Ian Flint joined as Visual Caption Head. The repertoire utilizes original arrangements of Mind Heist from Inception (Zack Hemsey), Huapango (Kevin Walczyk, who teaches at Western Oregon University and lives in McMinnville, Oregon), The Hymn of Axciom (Vienna Teng), Nocturne, Op. 33 and Medea, Dance of Vengeance (Samuel Barber) and The Alabados Song (Paul Bissell).


In 2015 the corps announced some big moves in their staffing, with Ian Flint promoted to Program Coordinator, and the addition of Brad Green and Alex Blue for brass and Mitch Rogers in drill writing, and Chris Cordova as colorguard caption head.  Their 2015 program “The Midnight Garden” features the Cinderella Suite of Prokofiev, “Who is She?” (From Cinderella) , and “Pumpkin Pursuit” (From Cinderella), both by Patrick Doyle. 

In addition to the summer Drum and Bugle Corps, Oregon Crusaders runs the OC Indoor winter drumline program,

The Red Shoes

founded by Jeff Bush and now led by Mike Stevens. OCI received the gold medal in WGI (PIA) in 2009, and the bronze medal in WGI (PIO) in 2010. In 2011, they were granted World Class status, and advanced to the WGI finals with their innovative show “The Red Shoes,” which combined a world-class colorguard component with their world-class drumline. In 2012 they competed in World Class competition with their program “Shine.” In 2013, they were World Class Finalists with their program “Voodoo”.


In July, 2013, it was announced that the visual ensemble portion of OC Indoor would break off as its own WGI color guard ensemble called “OC Independent” led by long-time OC instructors Charlotte Morrow, Melissa Goodling, Jeff Capponi and designer JC Caceres.

The Oregon Crusaders is funded through the donations of kind individuals, the fees paid by our marching members, and through other fundraising activities. Our budget is over $700,000 a year and as OC continues to grow, we greatly appreciate your contributions and support.

#TBOC A History in the Making