The Des Plaines Vanguard was a junior marching and maneuvering corps, formed in 1935 and based in Des Plaines, Illinois.
The corps was born under the sponsorship of the International Order of the Svithiod which, happily, did not lend its name to the new group. When sponsorship was taken over by the Logan Square Post 405 of Chicago, the corps' name became "Logan Square." The Mel Tierney American Legion Post took over the sponsorship in 1951, with which came the corps' expected name change to "Mel Tierney." By the time the Skokie Valley VFW Post 3854 took over the corps, it was known as the Skokie Vanguard, then the Chicago Vanguard, although there was never an official connection with the Windy City. Finally, with a relocation to Des Plaines, under sponsorship of the Des Plaines VFW post and the IAMAW (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers), the corps' best-known handle, Des Plaines Vanguard, became official.
At the peak of their competitive power, the Vanguard won the U.S. Open Championship in 1967 and the World Open in 1968. These they did with an eclectic repertoire ranging from "Man of La Mancha" to "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy." The corps participated in the very first DCI championship competition in 1972, finishing seventh.
The Vanguard is credited with being the first drum corps to carry tri-toms, back in 1968; the first use of finger cymbals, in 1968; was one of the first to use bass drums with different pitches and sizes in 1966; and, for the specialist, the first corps to use "a multi-tempo, non-snare focused percussion feature , the tymp-focused transitional solo from 'Bali Hai' concert to 'Let the Sunshine In.'"
In 1968, the Vanguard used props on the field, in a presentation of "The Planets." That may be yet another first among drum corps.
Finally, this innovative corps had the distinction of performing one of the odder-titled selections in drum corps repertoire in 1970: "The Oracle Speaks."
The corps competed in DCI through 1976, and a senior version of the corps competed in DCA in 1987.
[DCW, 6/8/90, p.3; 6/29/90, p.20; A History of Drum and Bugle Corps, 2002; Jim Nevermann, RAMD, 10/20/99; Paul Herzog, RAMD, 3/8/95; Jay McGuffin]