Joe McVeigh started a lifetime of activity when he joined the Sons
of the American Legion Jr. Drum and Bugle Corps in the spring of 1942. This
was the feeder corps for the Judson P. Galloway Drum Corps. By the spring of
1943 he was one of the top drummers in the "A" corps.
When the corps disbanded, Joe and other members helped organize to Leon Neon Drum and
Bugle Corps. Leon Neon was the Hudson Valley's first marching and maneuvering
corps in the days when corps played strictly military music. Leon Neon chose
to play popular, standard and classical music that were marchable.
During these times, Joe was in demand as a drum instructor for several other corps.
Although he was still a teenager he was hired to teach Mac's All Girl Drum
Corps. It was here that he met his future wife, Ruth Bracken.
When the Leon Neon boys became too old for junior competition, they and
members of Queen City (Odd Fellows) Corps joined the 56th Regiment Senior
Corps to form the John T. Kenney Post Ambassadors. It was here that Joe
showed another talent, that of drill designer and marching instructor. Under
his tutelage, the Ambassadors won the VFW State Championship from 1954 to 1960.
During these years, Joe not only wrote and taught the drill but was a key
member of the snare drum line. He also helped design the salmon pink, black
and white uniform of the Ambassadors, which was a shocker back in the '50s.
In the '60s Joe marched with the Criterions. This was a merger of the
Ambassadors and the Port Ewen Colonial Cavaliers. After a few years, the
heavy time demand of this kind of activity was taking too much time away
from his family. Joe chose his family.
Joe had always loved Ancient-style
drumming. As a member of the Coldenham Fire Company he organized the Coldenham
Fife and Drum Corps. He was the director and drum instructor and his family was
Joe received the first Albert Sheehan Memorial Award in 1974 for a job well
above and beyond the duty of a fireman. He was named Fireman of the Year.
When his children graduated high school with most of the junior corps
members, Joe founded the Troopers Fife & Drum Corps in 1982. A senior
corps of the Civil War era, the Troopers competed in contests and were almost
Joe's likeable personality and reputation drew the best talent in the area.
Joe was director of the corps for 12 years, until his death on July 8, 1994.