Bob Rohrbaugh: 1974-1977 Percussion
Bob’s first performance was the Bluecoats’ first judged competition and Bob’s last performance was the corps first DCI prelim appearance in Boulder, Colorado in 1977. Bob notes many fond memories from those beginning years, but a few stand out.
“There was an enormous sense of satisfaction in a continual improvement of the corps, and especially regarding the drumline over the four years he marched,” Bob states, “Our first drum score was a 2 (out of 20), but we still beat another corps (Erie Mavericks). We kept the same snare line together for the duration of my Bluecoats career and as a result became kind of a “family”, and by the summer of 1977 we were scoring in the 17’s.” Bob Rohrbaugh had the privilege of aging out during the year the corps played “Bridge over Troubled Water” as a closer. Bob shares, “We played a 33-count roll while walking backwards, which to my knowledge is the still the longest roll in drum corps history. It was almost always clean (the exception being that it was somewhat pulsed due to nervousness during DCI prelims), but during the U.S. Open finals that year was absolutely perfect. At the final release of the roll, I still remember the drum judge smiling and then walking away.” Bob and the rest of the drum line felt at that point the Bluecoats had finally “made it” after 4 years of hard work.
Bob currently lives in Washington State on the Kitsap Peninsula, about 15 miles west of Seattle. He retired in January 2016 after working as an electronics engineer for the U.S. Navy where he designed aircraft carrier radio systems for 6 years and was involved with acoustic testing of submarines for almost 30. There was frequent travel involved in the job to mostly west coast naval stations and Hawaii. “At one point I spent a total of over 1,000 days at our submarine acoustic range in Alaska,” he said. Rohrbaugh has worked on most of the submarines in the U.S. Fleet, spending from 1 day to 2 weeks at sea on each boat.
When asked what types of ‘life lessons’ being involved in drum corps taught him, Bob eagerly shared, “I would say the greatest lesson learned by being in the Bluecoats is the level of accomplishment that is possible when one is able to shed some of their ego and become part of a team.” “Our drum line, which had some incredibly talented members, only became successful when the individuals “stepped outside” of themselves to listen and become part of the other bodies in the line” That is a lesson that is difficult to implement in practice, and is something that is foreign to most people that have never participated in activities such as drum corps, team sports, or the military.
Bob Rohrbaugh was fortunate to be a part of the Bluecoats in the early years, and even he had some interesting thoughts about the corps winning their first DCI World Championship. “I will be honest – I never expected to live to see the Bluecoats win a title,” he said. “I was in a state of euphoria for several days after that winning night, and it is still hard to believe it has happened.”
Bob continues to drum, and has been part of an alumni corps drum line in the Seattle area since 1983, made up mostly of former Blue Devils, Santa Clara Vanguard, Seattle Imperials, and other west coast corps members from the 70’s and 80’s. He shared this about his involvement in the line going forward: “I will no longer feel like an outsider during discussions of the “other” championship corps. This is a great time to be a Bluecoat!”
Indeed it is a great time to be a Bluecoat, Bob, and we’re proud to call you a BLOO brother.