Welcome to the Des Plaines Vanguard Historic Photo Gallery!

Choose the year you would like the history and photos for from the drop-down box below and then click the View Pictures button. When the page opens, sit back and read the brief history for that period, and enjoy the photos by clicking on the thumbnails for the full-size photos.



The Vanguard was always a top contender in VFW Nationals for most of the 1960's. Later in the 1960's, they consistently finished near the top in the VFW Nationals finals after powerful performances in preliminary competitions. In fact, at the 1968 VFW Nationals Preliminary Show the Vanguard won the preliminary contest with a score of 90.40. Although the Vanguard never officially won the VFW Nationals Finals title, throughout the1960's, they routinely conquered every major titleholder and contender, either before (or in some cases after) they had won the national championship. The Vanguard continued to be an extremely talented, top performing drum corps well into the early 1970's.

Some of the Vanguard's more significant titles include: the 1967 U.S. National Championship, the 1968 Illinois VFW State Championship, and the 1968 World Open Championship.

Some of the Vanguard's more significant non-contest accomplishments were actually "non-drum corps" in nature. First, there was an appearance to open the Chicagoland Music Festival at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago's McCormick Place in 1965. This festival was a general showcase for music of all types, including pop, folk and R&B. A second, even more impressive appearance was a masterful and powerful performance at the Chicago Opera House, with an incredible rendition of the 1812 Overture, complete with simulated cannon fire and tubular bells.

The Vanguard is always remembered for its powerful horn lines, great M&M designs and execution, and for always having one of the top drum lines year after year. Throughout those years, the Vanguard horn arrangements were written by a succession of great arrangers, including the famed Hy Dreitzer (of the New York Skyliners), Ed Morrisey, Jim Unrath, Dave Richards and Dave Hill.

The Dreitzer musical scores, integrated with Frank Pamper's highly innovative and aesthetically pleasing M&M drills both combined with an always-spectacular Vanguard drum line to create the power shows that the Vanguard became known for.

Frank Pamper was an innovative genius, but not only in M&M; his foresightedness not only orchestrated bringing in Hy Dreitzer, but just as importantly was the person mainly responsible for bringing in former members of The Brigade, the Morton Grove Spartans and Phantom Regiment members and adding them to the Vanguard talent pool. Simply put, Pamper had the "make things happen" approach which made him the classic founder of the modern day Vanguard.

Another major innovation that became a Vanguard trademark was the use of what was considered (at that time) "gigantic" color guards, which were not only large, but were also (for one of the first times in drum corps history) a combination of both "girl" color guard and "boy" color guard sections, which were fully integrated into one top performing guard.

Of a social and historical note, the Vanguard should also be remembered for its ethnic diversity, being one of the first major Midwest corps to become fully integrated in the turbulent 60's.

The innovative attitude of the Vanguard was also carried on off the field, as Vanguard Staff Alumni (Don Pesceone and Jim Unrath) were instrumental in the early stages of the development of DCI.

The Vanguard always had, and to this day still has, a following of legions of loyal fans. While the Vanguard does not currently have an active, official alumni organization, there are a multitude of ex-members from all of the previous years of the Vanguard's existence who are still in contact with one another. It is extremely hard to measure the long-term fraternity of families and friends who to this day are still a close-knit group.

The Vanguard, both its personnel and staff, were always committed to adaptation, growth, commitment and loyalty. The Vanguard will always be known for setting new standards, and above all, as a corps that always took chances - chances in musical presentations, M&M, percussion and overall show design, arrangements, visuals and even in personnel.

The Vanguard will long be remembered as a major icon and as a huge influence on what is now considered modern drum corps. The highly talented and powerful hornline, the skilled and innovative drum line, the inspiring M&M shows and all of the innovations were all trademarks of one of the best junior corps of the 60's and 70's and so aptly named "Vanguard".

The Vanguard corps itself is gone, left now to photographs, recordings and discussion groups of those old enough to remember them. But above all, the Vanguard has instilled great memories for all of those fortunate to have seen them, admired them, and even for those who competed against them. But the greatest and fondest memories of all will always reside in the hearts and souls of those of us who were a part of them.

Come back often as the gallery will be updated as more history and photos are added.

Have any history and photos you would like to contribute?
E-Mail them to info@desplainesvanguard.com
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