CASPER, Wyo. — The 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry serves as the inspiration for much of the Troopers’ identity as a drum corps.
The corps’ logo — which features crossed sabres centered below a block No. 11 — is a direct reference to the 19th-century volunteer militia, as is the name of the organization and the iconic uniform donned by its members.
It’s been 60 years since Jim Jones formed the corps on that foundation. Thursday, at Fort Caspar — in the Troopers’ hometown where the 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry was stationed during American-Indian Wars in the 1800s — the corps celebrated its diamond anniversary, surrounded by a dedicated alumni base and a supportive local community.
“60 years, for anything, is a big feat,” Troopers drum major Gabe Gallegos said. “Being able to celebrate it here in Fort Caspar, where, not the corps was founded or anything, but the foundation of the corps, the name, the Troopers, and the identity and everything that we wear comes from — just being able to connect the future and the past, as far back as the 1800s — it’s just incredible.”
Supporters from around the Casper area endured a bit of rain to experience this year’s edition of their beloved corps perform historic staples like “Ghost Riders,” as well as its 2018 production, “The New Road West.”
For John Masterson, a former Troopers drum major and member of the organization’s board of directors, Thursday’s anniversary celebrations brought him back to his time in the corps.
“It's a combination of being really moving and interesting and thinking a lot about stuff that you did growing up with this drum corps whether you were watching them or participating in it,” Masterson said. “It sounds kind of cliche but it's touching, it's really fun.”
As part of the event, fans in attendance were able to experience an exhibit dedicated to the Troopers’ history. The display, developed by Michelle Bahe, the museum’s curator of collections, included a wide assortment of donated artifacts, including historic uniforms, flags, memorabilia and more.
Through working with the Troopers to dig into the group’s storied past, Bahe was also able to publish “Casper’s Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps,” a book on the corps’ rich history.
In doing so, she said she was most struck by the lifelong bonds created not only by the Troopers, but also through participation in the drum corps activity.
“One thing that surprised me — and the further I’ve gotten into this, it seems to be typical for drum corps — is how much of a family all of these people are who’ve ever been in drum corps or the Troopers,” Bahe said. “Whether it’s the Troopers you marched with or the Troopers from 10 years later or 10 years earlier, they’re just one giant family.”
The corps will wrap up 60th anniversary celebrations with the Casper edition of Drums Along the Rockies Friday night, and with the reception the Troopers continue to get from their hometown, it should be a meaningful culmination to a memorable series of events.
“We’re excited for tomorrow night’s show, our home show,” Ottoes said. “The support of the Casper community is very important to us, we’re really grateful for all of it.”