Rich Kirchner - Recruiter - First Rifle - 1984 - Tempe, AZ
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You may notice the stripes on the rifle.  It was something that I came up with...  We had just put the logo on the ascots, and I thought that it would add a little flair to the rifles...  They were fiberglass, light and easy to spin.


This was a 24 hour inspection...  an initiation of scary proportions...

We wore olive-drab on Wednesdays, when we performed on the flightline, as the students marched back to their squadrons, and did the eyes-right thing.  It was nice to look completely different, and the uniform was also more comfortable than the blues.  This picture was taken during a solar eclipse, late summer of 1984.


I remember marching Mardi Gras and a few other parades in New Orleans.  The crowds were usually drunk enough to get us buzzing, but they were always very receptive and friendly.  Great city.  We had a lot of fun there.  Too bad we were always "on the clock"...


Do you remember the United States Football League from 1983-1985?  Well, the New Orleans Breakers invited us to perform at the Superdome on Memorial Day, as they played the Tampa Bay Bandits.  We got a visit from their cheerleaders, who happily posed with a few lucky Blue Knights.  I took this picture, so I wasn't so lucky.  Very nice girls.


The Six-Man exchange was a blast.  We put the Corps Commander in the middle, surrounded him, and tossed our rifles right by him.  We just warned him not to move!  Here, we are performing with AMN Papastravo (Corps Commander) in the center.

The Controversy of the Corps Council of 1984

A big shake up happened in the summer of 1984.  The Corps Council had a big closed-door meeting.  They gave no reason for this meeting to the rest of the Corps.  Several things happened.  At the time, I was the First Rifle under Roberta Canez, and I was a shoe-in for Rifle Sergant when she saluted out.  That didn't happen.  As a result of this meeting, AMN Mike Evans was selected over me, to the shock of everyone.  I remained, to my reluctance, the First Rifle.

Being so dedicated to the Rifle section, and being the Corps Recruiter, and being respected by all, I never recovered from this decision by the Council.  I will never understand that decision.  They never had the guts to tell me why, either.  At the same time, I was also NOT allowed to be dubbed a Blue Knight.  The entire Corps could not understand why that had happened to me.

Get this: I was a Bay Chief for almost my whole stay at Keesler.  I was in line for Barracks Chief, which would have meant a Red Rope.  The same council ELIMINATED the function of Barracks Chief during a meeting in September, right as I was a shoe-in for that position...  I was left out in the cold...  One of he most dedicated members of the 1984 Corps was sacked.  No reason given.  Yes, I am bitter.  During that same wonderful meeting, we were told to stop ladder-lacing our boots, and start to dress up with the complicated process of spider-lacing.  Huh??!??  Why??!?!  That was such a pain!

Despite my bitterness, I have since had a great career and retired from the Air Force.  I happily maintain this website and embrace the Keesler Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps.  So, THERE!  :-)


Notice anything wrong with these two pictures?  Look at the beret colors.  Sticks and Horn sections wore white, Rifles and Flags wore black, section leaders and the Corps Commander wore blue.  For my roomie Jim Cox's salute-out, I had taught myself the Blue Knight Boogie.  Sticks Sergant Steve Foley was very patient with me, as I has never held sticks before!  It took about a week, and I was ready.  Cox requested Boogie, by tugging at his shoulder (the Drum Major's signal) and pointed at me in the rifle formation.  I walked over, and relieved a stick boot of his snare.  Foley stayed in the middle, and the Corps Commander, AMN Dolfax (former Sticks member), relieved the other stick boot.  I got through the entire routine without dropping a stick!  If you've ever seen the Blue Knight Boogie, you know how cool it looks. I have the video, and when I figure out how to compress it for you all to see, I'll post it on this site.  My special thanks to the sticks section for letting me sit in.  Since then, I have taught myself how to play a full set (left-handed) and have been told that I keep time very well.


We were a tight group, and shared a bond that went beyond our performances.  As First Rifle, I enjoyed training the new boots.  I knew I was cared for the day that I out-processed.  As I waited for the shuttle to take me to Gulfport on 15 Oct 84, the 3419th STUS straggled to Commander's Call at the base theatre.  Folks, I still get a tear to my eye as I remember how every one of them, Corps or not, stopped to shake my hand.  God bless them all...

The Corps

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