#TunesWePlay — Dunblane

On 13 March 1996, a man walked into the Dunblane (Scotland) Primary School armed with several guns. He fired his weapons 109 times murdering sixteen children and one adult before killing himself.

In the first hours after news of the tragedy came to light, a beautiful tribute was scored by Charlie Glendinning. Charlie spent nearly thirty years as Pipe Sergeant of the City of Washington Pipe Band (a.k.a. Denny and Dunipace, a.k.a. Scottish and Irish Imports). He scored many tunes which can be found in the Glendinning Collection of Bagpipe Music — which can be purchased @http://www.moonstarmusic.com/book.html


This is a retransmission of a recent but undated photo of the class of Dunblane Primary School, and their teacher, Gwenne Mayor, 45, from which 16 children and Mayor were killed when gunman Thomas Hamilton, 43, opened fire with four handguns in Dunblane, Scotland, Mach 13, 1996.


The bells of Dunblane cathedral rang a long tribute to the victims. Pipe Major Robert Mathieson also composed a slow air for the Highland Bagpipes in memoriam of the event. He entitled it “The Bells of Dunblane” because the silence of the people and the sound of the cathedral bells seemed much stronger than any spoken word. 

Wake and District proudly plays Charlie’s air as part of our G3 ‘Protect and Serve’ medley. Dunblane, by Charlie Glendinning – one of many‪ #‎TunesWePlay‬

Below is a recording of DUNBLANE
from the City of Washington Pipe Band
recording Scottish Rant.  
Purchase your copy on AMAZON here.

Purchase your copy of CoW Scottish Rant on AMAZON here.


we are groot…

Our members are homeward bound after a fabulous weekend in Chicago. We continue to be impressed with our progression. Thank you to Jim Sim and the Midwest Pipe Band Association — and all the MWPBA bands for their support at the Chicago Highland Games and Scottish Festivalsome real class act bandsMidlothian Scottish Pipe Band – Chicago Scots Pipe Band – Greater Midwest Pipe BandKansas City St. Andrew Pipes and Drums – Chicago Celtic Pipe BandThe Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band – Dundee Scottish Pipe Band — and so many more. Thank you to all the stewards for keeping everything on schedule and in line (really great contest venue — a real “must go” pipe band event — HIGHLY recommended). ‪#‎MWPBA‬  

It was a sort of homecoming for two of our members — John Schodtler and Joe Brady — both who grew up in the Chicago-land area and played with a few of the bands referenced above.  We shared some Southern Spirit(s) with pipe maker Dave Atherton and many a folk in the beer tent.  We hope we left an impression of Southern hospitality with everyone we met.  Our members are humbled by all of your kind words about our program.

It was a good day for our members both individually and collectively.  Tim Hinson cleaned house in G3 piping with 4 first places and 1 2nd.  John Lovett won professional bass drummer of the day. Congratulations also to MaryEllen Hinson and Christinia Raig for going on the boards so far from home (you both did so well).  Very proud of all our solo players for putting forth exhausting but rewarding efforts.

As to our G3 band performances –we didn’t have our best MSR run — but sprung back with a strong Medley performance — garnering a 2nd place Medley slot (our drummers also took 1st in Medley).  We scored a pair of 2nd’s in Ensemble for both the Medley and MSR — strong work against some well established (and big) G3 bands.  In case you missed it — our middies won BEST BASS SECTION in G3!!!

We know what we are doing right – we know what we are doing wrong, and we are taking all the steps towards continuous-collective improvement.

Here are the full band results form the 2015 Chicago Highland Games:

Grade 2 MSR (1) : Greater Midwest
Grade 2 Medley (1) : Greater Midwest
Grade 2 Aggregate (1) : Greater Midwest

Grade 3 MSR (5) : 1. Midlothian Scottish 2. Kansas City St. Andrews 3. Chicago Celtic 4. Wake and District 5. Chicago Scots
Grade 3 Medley (5) : 1. Midlothian Scottish 2. Wake and District 3. Kansas City St. Andrews 4. Chicago Scots 5. Chicago Celtic
Grade 3 Aggregate (5) : 1. Midlothian Scottish (BDC) 2. Kansas City St. Andrews 3. Wake and District (BBS) 4. Chicago Scots 5. Chicago Celtic

Grade 4 Medley (5) : 1. 87th Cleveland (BDC) 2. St Andrews Society of Central IL 3. Chicago Highlanders (BBS) 4. Minnesota Police 5. Stockyard Kilty

Grade 5 QMM (12) : 1. Turlach Ur 2. Kansas City St Andrews (BDC, BBS) 3. Omaho P&D 4. Madison P&D 5. Celtic Cross 6. Firefighter Highland Guard

To all of our families we left behind for the weekend – thanks for your patience and understanding of this cantankerous thing we do.   HUGE thank you to the Justice League for transporting all of our gear across several state lines – and acting as the best roadies and baby-sisters to all things Wake and District (whoooo).  Cheers to Peter McArthur for lending your time and talent to help setup the pipers throughout the day; it was invaluable.

We said it before – nothing stays the same.  Progression continues.  We are having fun and remain impressed.  We are no where near where we are going to end up…



it’s 806 miles to Chicago…

Members of Wake & District are on the road this weekend to Chicago for the 29th Annual Chicago Scottish Games and Highland Festival, being held in Istaca. Our G3 band — along with some soloists — will be competing. Our thanks to the Midwest Pipe Band Association for accommodating our long distance trip — and all the MWPBA bands for their support and encouragement as we make this 806 mile trek.

For a couple of us – this is a trip “home”.  For others (who have never been on a plan before) this is a weekend of firsts.  We will surely post photos, stories and results from the field.   Be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for updates from the road…

For more information on the games check out >> www.chicagoscots.org/highlandgames<<

It’s been said there are only two mistakes one can make along the road to success – not going all the way, and not starting.  The road to success is not easy to navigate. The members of Wake and District have been fortunate over these past 9 years together – having guidance and support to see us along, help us navigate and drive the work and passion possible to succeed.
So much behind us, so much ahead of us — as is ever so on the road.    

Safe travels to all those attending the games this weekend — and best of luck to all the competitors.


#StayFocused #StayInTune


the story of pipes…

From band member Russell Smith :: We are all aware (or should be) we are observing the 100th anniversary of WWl. The 18th of June is the 200th anniversary or the battle of Waterloo.

What is so significant about Waterloo and the Napoleonic wars in particular is when pipers in Highland regiments became quite prevalent and prominent. Pipers in the British army date back to the 16th century but documentation of the wide use and importance of pipers was really not recognized until the Napoleonic period. There are very few pipes that were played at Waterloo still in existence. Below is an interesting article of just one of the few Waterloo pipes left.


This set of bagpipes was used by regiments of Highlanders in the British Army. The age of the pipes is uncertain, it has been confirmed that they are definitely old enough to live up to the inscription on its brass plaque which states: “…played at the Battle of Waterloo…”

This set of bagpipes was used by regiments of Highlanders in the British Army. The age of the pipes is uncertain, it has been confirmed that they are definitely old enough to live up to the inscription on its brass plaque which states: “…played at the Battle of Waterloo…”

From Waterloo 200 :: The MacKillop family has owned this set of bagpipes for several generations. A long-standing tradition associates these pipes with the 79th (Cameron Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, a regiment who fought with distinction throughout Wellington’s final campaign against the French. For their meritorious actions the 79th earned the rare honour of being praised by Wellington in his Waterloo dispatch. Sadly the name of piper who played this set of pipes at Waterloo has been lost to history.

Each of the Highland Regiments who served during the Napoleonic wars carried at least one set of pipes into battle. At Waterloo there were three other Highland regiments brigaded with the Camerons. The sound of their bagpipes echoing over the battlefield boosted the morale of the regiments. This tradition was continued until the Second World War after which the use of bagpipes became ceremonial. However, in 1967 when the 1st Bn Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders commanded by Lt Col Colin Mitchell (Mad Mitch) re-occupied the Crater District in Aden, he was accompanied by his piper playing.

Pipers were particularly vulnerable on the battlefield and were often some of the first casualties, like Piper George Clark. Clark served under Wellington in Portugal where he was wounded in the leg. However, despite his injury he continued to play. Many other pipers defied the enemy with sheer bravado like Piper MacKay of the 79th. At Waterloo, with his regiment formed into a square and facing the onslaught of the charging French cavalry, MacKay bravely left the safety of the square to march around his comrades while he played the Pibroch, War or Peace, indifferent to the dangers he faced.

The story of these pipes does not end on the field of Waterloo. Pipe-Major Angus Paul MacKillop of the 79th Regiment of Foot continued to carry them during the Victorian era, and played them proudly on campaign in Egypt and Sudan during the 1880s and 90s, just as the unknown piper did at the Battle of Waterloo.

200 years later…we are fortunate to still have bagpipe masters like Roddy MacLellan — keeping tradition alive by creating a custom bagpipe, based on “the Waterloo Bagpipe” in the National Museum collection in Scotland. Shown here in cocobolo with Antiqued imitation ivory — Roddy can make this bagpipe with either the MacLellan or the Antique bores.  For more information visit Roddy’s website @ highland-pipemaker.com/waterloo_bagpipe.htm

As for the tune — The Battle of Waterloo — “…the Battle of Waterloo, fought in June 1815, brought to an end 23 years of intermittent war with France. The gallantry and discipline of the Scottish Regiments, together with the appalling casualties they suffered, have earned this historic victory a special place in the military annals of Scotland. The Allied army included three of the four kilted Highland Regiments in the Army at the time: the 42nd Royal Highlanders, 79th Cameron Highlanders and 92nd Gordon Highlanders. The infantry of the line included four other Scottish Regiments: 3rd Bn 1st Royal Scots, the 71st, 73rd and 91st Regiments. Other Scottish troops present were the 3rd Foot Guards and the 2nd Royal North British Dragoons. The tune is old, and PM Donald MacLeod got it from Stewart Salmond, who probably learnt it from PM Angus MacLeod, Dundee.”

The tune does have an ominous feeling to it. Keeps going back to G. Darn! Another tune I have to learn.   As best as can be determined, the tune was written long after the battle, but how long after is unknown. I have a feeling (that I am quite unable to confirm) that it entered the piping repertoire in the 1830s or 1840s or perhaps even later. To me, the tune has a decidedly Victorian sound.

The composer is unknown, and is best attributed to the well known and prolific Anon or Trad. Donald Macleod et al likely arranged the music in the version we now play, but almost certainly did not compose it. The tune has more than a passing resemblance to an equally old Irish melody ‘Napoleon Crossing the Rhine’ usually played as a hornpipe or reel on various instruments including the fiddle, banjo and accordion. A fair number of ‘Scottish’ pipe tunes originated in Ireland and I would not be at all surprised if this was the case with ‘The Battle of Waterloo.’



Wake and District was honored to return to the steps of the North Carolina State Capitol to be a part of the the Terquasquicentennial (175th) Anniversary of our State Capitol Building.  The capitol building was opened in 1840 after North Carolina’s original capitol was destroyed in a fire nine years before.

The governor’s office remains in the capitol, even though the Senate and House moved to the Legislative Building in 1963.  For more information on our state capitol — visit their website @ ncstatecapitol.org

Thank you to all of our members who made it out today through recording breaking heat.  This event was a debut for a couple new members of the band – please welcome Maryellen Hinson and Caleb Markowski to our family.  It was also the return of a member who hasn’t put his kilt on in almost 2 years — NCSHP Trooper Brandon Johnson.


The first photo is of the original members of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol circa 1929 — taken on the steps of the North Carolina State Capitol. The second is members of the Wake and District Pipe Band in the same spot circa 2015.  It’s a privilege to stand in the steps of history and be in service to such a wonderful organization.


top 5 legitimate life hacks…

Sharing this article — by Greg “RU Twisted” Drobny — from www.unapologeticallyamerican.com

Life hack! I’ve seen a lot of those lately—from brewing the best coffee to the coolest tricks you can do with your iPhone, there are articles floating about that tell you shortcuts to make some facet of your life better/faster/more-about-that-bass.

So naturally I figured, being the bandwagon jumper that I am, it was time for a UA-themed life hack list. Because although we may not be first, we’ll do it better and with more explosions.

1: Work hard. DontBeUpset

Yeah, I know this one sounds really esoteric and pretty far out there, but hear me out. If you work hard at what you do, you’re going to go farther and accomplish more than by looking for some secret “hack” to life.

As I was told early on, there is no pixie dust. No magical fix-alls or slogans can ever replace hard work and no pyramid scheme, no matter how amazingly succulent it may sound, can change that. The sooner you accept that the better off you’ll be.

2: You’re not on a crusade

When I was in Iraq it didn’t take long to realize that what we were doing there was mostly pointless. I said then—and time has proven me right—that it didn’t matter if we left 5 years, 5 months, or 5 minutes from then, the result would be the same. So I dedicated myself to helping my guys out as much as possible and having a positive impact on the soldiers around me because the mission wasn’t going to solve the world’s problems—or even those in that country or ours.

We all grow up thinking we are going to change the world. But at some point you have to come to grips with the fact that by far the biggest impact you will have in this life is on those in your immediate circle. The consequences of your actions, be they good or bad, will be far more profound on your bosses, employees, and family than they ever will be on any kind of “mission” you think you’re on.

3: You can be wrong

As often as possible, I try to do some serious evaluation of the things I believe to be true in order to determine whether or not they hold up to scrutiny. I can think of three times, specifically, that I have had some pretty major revelations because of this approach. When I stopped working in politics it enabled me to say “hey, since I’m not being paid to argue for X, I can honestly assess whether or not X is even true,” and this lead to some rather profound changes in how I viewed the world around me.

The point being is that it is okay to be wrong, and this is not at all contrary to being “Unapologetically American.” In fact, coming out the other side of being wrong can lead to amazing things.

While this sounds cool to everyone in theory, we are stubborn as hell when it comes to actually admitting even the possibility we could be incorrect about what we hold dear. It’s a lot tougher to do than most of us are willing to confess—again because that means admitting there is a possibility we’ve been on the wrong path.

Honest evaluation of your position doesn’t mean learning better talking points. It means coming to grips with the fact that you, me, and even that guy in the clown suit who offered you vodka when you were 10 years old are probably wrong about some pretty important issues. Accepting that and moving forward from it can have truly wonderful consequences.

4: Life solutions can’t fit on bumper stickers

If 42 years on this earth has taught me anything it is that tequila and airplane glue leads to a bad night most of reality is simultaneously simple and astonishingly complicated. Though this doesn’t make much sense, hopefully you’ll let me confuse you further.

As an example, when I was coaching Muay Thai, I could explain every single technique a new student would need to know in under five minutes. But anyone who’s ever done it can tell you that it will take years to even begin getting a handle on the complexities of just the simplest martial arts. The process of learning, understanding, and developing a proficiency in a certain discipline is in many ways a never-ending quest.

A great deal of life is like that, but our culture is largely reflective of the exact opposite. Look at the average political slogan and ask yourself what in the hell does that even mean? Yet they are continually used because, lo and behold, they work.

Don’t let your life or the life around you be summed up by a bumper sticker. Bullet points are great for shortening that super boring corporate meeting, but the truly interesting facts of life are complex processes that involve getting your mental hands dirty—no, notthat kind of dirty. Pervert.

5: Number 5 is easily the most profound and life changing hack you’ll ever see.

There is no notion that I find more dangerous to our way of life and more despicable than the idea that we are “owed” anything or that we “deserve” anything.
Life is competition. You need to look no further than nature. If a lion sits around all day and decides not to hunt, it doesn’t eat. If it doesn’t eat, it dies. Simple. Brutal. Reality.

We are no different, except we have compassion. We see others that will not work, will not put out effort, and we refuse to let them starve. We make sure they have what they need to survive. We, the capable, the workers, decide that we will not let another human being die while we have the means to prevent it.

I believe that is a good thing. I believe that is just.

The growing issue however, is when people who do not work, who do not contribute to society believe they are owed something more. They deserve cable. They deserve a car. They deserve that which the workers receive. We are teetering on the edge of a place where it is more beneficial to be on an entitlement program than it is to work a minimum wage job.    But if the only issue was entitlement programs, then the issue would be minimal. For every five people who need welfare, there will always be one abuser. That simply comes with the territory. The bigger issue is that increasingly, this “entitlement disease” is spreading to working citizens. The occupy movement is a group of people who believe they deserve more – more opportunity, more money, more benefits, more whatever. They believe that life isn’t fair.

They are right. It never will be and it never has been.

Rich people have more shit. They get away with more shit. They control more shit. They keep their families rich. They get richer over time. Yeah, it sucks.  So do something about it. Work hard. Start a business. Join a business. Fight and fight and fight until you get what it is that you want out of life. Will everyone get where they want? No. Some people who work harder than you do will never achieve your level of success and some people that work markedly less hard will blow you out of the water. And that will always be true because life isn’t fair, people have different skillsets, and luck plays a huge role in life.

But what I can tell you is that you have to take responsibility for your life or you will become, and remain, a loser. Every success and every failure has to be yours. You can’t blame mom, dad, Obama, Bush, bad luck, the teacher that hated you, where you grew up, or multinational-piece-of-shit-scumbag-banks. You have to push every single day and carve out of life what it is that you want. You have to go over, under, or blast through obstacles. You have to never quit.

Contrary to popular opinion, no one owes you anything.  Earn it.

Greg Drobny, aka RU Twisted is the Editor-in-Chief of Unapologetically American. A former Airborne Infantryman, PSYOP Team Chief, political tool, welder, bartender, and failed musician (to name a few), Greg holds a bachelor’s degree in American history and has contributed as a writer to The Rhino Den for several years as well as two published books; “Redeployed” and “War Stories.” Follow him on Twitter: @RU_Twist


more good times to come…

June 8th marks our 9 year anniversary as an organization; we’ve come so far since our initial meeting and our first year together. Over these years, founding band member Lloyd Johnson has penned our year in review (you can read them all here).

Forming the Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums was not an easy undertaking.  The time, the money, the exhausting efforts of getting things going while some pointed at us and said “look, it’s just another police/fire band“.

Over the past 9 years we’ve striven for excellence and have been successful because of the dedication, focus and the tenacity of our members (none of whom are average).  We’ve come full circle it seems — with a few police/fire bands now saying “their just a competition band” — and still others accusing us of grandstanding.

Wake and District is so much more than the pegs others put us in.  We continue to examine everything we do – growing at ever opportunity and all along doing the right things for all the right reasons.  The work sometimes feels never-ending…rehearsing 3-4 times per week, playing gigs in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Chicago and points in-between.  The work is worth it.

People come and go. Uniforms change. New tunes are added (and many removed, brought back and modified again and again). Through it all our mission never waivers.

FOR OUR FALLEN remains our constant, our banner.

As we embark towards a decade together — we look forward more good times, exhausting challenges and the fulfillment which comes from being together week after week, gig after gig.

Coming together is a beginning Keeping together is a process. Working together is success. - Henry Ford

Happy birthday Wake and District; you’re looking pretty darned good.

It has been 9 years of growth, surprises, sadness,
affirmation, amazement and sheer joy.

Here is how it all began:

In 2005 – under the leadership of veteran Chicago police officer and long-time piper Joe Brady, the members of a fledging Carolina Pipes & Drums of the Emerald Society had worked in the Johnston County area to build a public safety pipe band. At the same time, an interest in piping was growing within the Wake County EMS Division as several interested potential piping students pressed Wake County EMS Chief and resident piper – Skip Kirkwood – to help them learn to play the pipes (one of those interested medics was AssistantTony Crawford).

On May 6, 2006 – while attending the dedication of the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Raleigh, Brady (that day performing with the Charlotte Fire Department pipe band) met Crawford.  Also in attendance that day were Raleigh Firefighters Jason Lane, Joe Harwell, Lloyd Johnson and Garner Firefighter Michael Bishop.   A series of meetings were held, which concluded with an agreement to form a new band which would incorporate both the Johnston County contingent and the public safety community from Wake County and the surrounding areas. A date was picked for an organizational meeting. Chief Kirkwood sent a letter of invitation to 65 public safety agency heads in the east-central region of North Carolina, soliciting participation of pipers, drummers, and those interested in learning.

On June 8, 2006 - an organizational meeting was held at the EMS Training Center in the Wake Commons Business Park. Some 50 law enforcement officers, firefighters, and paramedics, and public safety supporters attended. Experienced players began “tuning up” and students were provided information about obtaining practice chanters, drum sticks, and practice pads. A regular schedule of Wednesday – Thursday practice sessions was established, based at the Wake County EMS Training Center on Carya Drive in Raleigh… On July 9 – another letter went out to the public safety chief officers, inviting them to engage the band for ceremonial occasions within their agencies. It didn’t take long!



custodians of tradition…

The slow beat of the drum and echo of the bugle filled the silence in Arlington National Cemetery today (o4 June 2015) as members the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps participated in a Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, marking the completion of Colonel Blakeslee A. Connors’ assignment as Commander of the 4th Battalion 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment.

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is the only unit of its kind in the armed forces, and is part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). The Fife and Drum Corps is stationed at Fort Myer, VA.  The musicians of this unit recall the days of the American Revolution as they perform in uniforms patterned after those worn by the musicians of General George Washington’s Continental Army. Military musicians of the period wore the reverse colors of the regiments to which they were assigned. The uniforms worn by the members of the Corps are dated circa 1784, and consist of black tricorn hats, white wigs, waistcoats, colonial coveralls, and distinct red regimental coats.  In support of the president, the Corps performs at all armed-forces arrival ceremonies for visiting dignitaries and heads of state at the White House, and has participated in every Presidential Inaugural Parade since President John F. Kennedy’s in 1961.  Read more about the regiment here.

Over the years we have had the honor to commiserate with several members of the unit — including the drummer from today’s Wreath-Laying Ceremony, Mark Reilly.  We are humbled to know Mark and his many fellow musicians who are the custodians of tradition.  Thank you to all of the members of the Old Guard past and present — including our friends and now retired Old Guard musicians Tedford and Tim.

Tradition is a hard won thing — thank you to all those who guard it.

(U.S. Army photos by SSG Heather Tribble) More photos on our Flickr page at http://bit.ly/1JtCm5Z ‪#‎WreathLaying‬ ‪#‎USArmy‬ POW * MIASoldiers magazine Society of the Honor Guard, (The Old Guard)


member of the month #June2K15…

Raleigh’s Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums currently has 70+ members who come from all walks of life and bring an indeterminate amount of experience with them. Our members are police officers, lawyers, engineers, students, machinists, Doctors to name but a few and all are tremendous individuals who share the common goal of being part of a successful and competitive pipe band.

We are adding a new feature to our website — the member of the month – and thought we would  start with our newest bass drummer, T. Stephen Turnball (Mr. Boom-Boom).

In his words…

I am on a C.D.  In the year 2007 to raise monies for the band to go to Scotland, we made a CD. Went to a recording studio in Colchester, VT. Paid the fellow about $3,000 for the production and manufacture of 1,000 cds. We figured we would sell them for $15 apiece, raise $15,000…Consequently, $12,000 profit.

I am the bass in all of the tunes except one. Also, my photo is on the cd itself. Ayup, get this….just prior to the Boston parade, Iain and I were taking a leak side by side under the overpass when Steve Looke, tenor drummer, took a photo of us peeing. Of course, nothing inappropriate was seen. But when we saw this photo everyone said, “If we make a cd, this photo is going on it.” So we are literally peeing on everyone’s turntables when they play our band cd. The cd is labeled “Marking Our Territory.”

The band always planned for many years to compete at the Worlds. It came to fruition in August, 2011. The CPB came in 10th in their Grade 4A. I was not able to attend because I was under the knife at Duke that month due to a cancer tumor operation.

In 2013 the band said “Steve, you have to come this time.” So in August, 2013 I went with the band for two weeks in Glasgow, Scotland. Flew via USAirways from RDU to Philadelphia to Glasgow. We stayed at the University of Glasgow dormitories. Had about five floors. About 70 were with us including family members. Single rooms, kitchenette, single showers. Took taxis everywhere. We sent two bands. IV and V.

What an experience. Most of the band one night bought tickets to hear the Grade I bands play at the Royal Hall. Not me. I went across the street to the Pub and watched England vs. Scotland play soccer. It was at Wembley Stadium in London and when “God Save the Queen” was sung, there were so many boos, one could not hear the words. The Scots were well represented there. Nothing like being in a Scottish Pub, drinking Scottish beverages, with fellow Scots in kilts. They gave me three free hot dogs. Yay.

The band came in 4th in the world in Grade 4A. The announcer said “And coming in 4th place is Catamount Pipe Band from Vermin, USA.” He did not say Vermont, he said Vermin. We all joked about that. The band is going this year 2015. They plan to go every other year. Grade 4A competed with 27 others. Two ranks of 14. The top six made it into the finals. We came in 4th. The Grade 4B competed against 66 others the next day on Sunday. Grade 4B came in 17th in their heat of 23. The top five made it into the finals. We did not. What an experience. I was not a competitive member of course. But I was the photographer, cheerleader, and go to guy to and from the beer tent.

I came to North Carolina due to medical reasons. Living in Vermont I was always flying to RDU to visit my daughter’s family or flying to ATL to visit my son and his family. In April, 2011 my life turned upside down due to diagnosis of neuro-endocrine cancer tumor coming out of pancreas. “It is malignant but operable,” my doctor said. The endoscopy created pancreatitis. The pancreatic surgeon in Vermont said “Steve, we will not be able to operate on you until the pancreatitis subsides. It could be one month, two or three months.” My daughter said, “Dad you are going to live with us and I will get you into Duke.” So I had my CIGNA changed from Vermont to NC and came down here in May, 2011. When they operated on me in August, they did not remove the tumor because it was right next to the SMA artery. So they took out the gall bladder and a cyst and sewed me back up. Gave me radiation for six weeks, cancer pills for 14 months, and now I go every month for a shot in the derriere.

I could live ten, twenty, thirty years with this tumor in me because it is slow growing and slow reducing. It is stable, I have had 19 cat scans. Not until the tumor is away from the artery will they ever attempt to open me up again to yank it out.

Consequently, I have left the CPB. I am an emeritus type of band member with them though. They all miss me. I always had jokes at the end of my emails and had “Welcome Aboard” summaries of the newbies and “Fair Winds and Following Seas” tributes to those dedicated members leaving the band.

I went to a few practices of a local pipe band (NCSU) but I did not connect with anybody there. Gave the Lead Tip my name and email address but there was nothing.  Then last August, I went online and located the Wake and District PB. Plugged in the location on my GPS. The first person I talked to was you, Joseph, right by your car trunk. Then I talked to Jason who was sewing torries on glens, and then Jack approached me with greetings. I felt a connection and Voila — here I am.

As you know, I cannot do parades anymore because I have no stamina anymore to play the bass drum for an extended period of time. But to me this is my way of getting back into things, by being with a pipe band, and kicking the hell out of cancer. It is just a pothole in life and I will kick the hell out of it. Listening to pipes and drums is like my background music in life. I love this stuff. I wish my parents were still around. They both died prior to me participating in this.

I am open with my medical history. Everyone can find out about me. I am proud of being a cancer survivor. Already am. Had prostate cancer surgery the very first year with CPB. Out for a few weeks.


Steve, we are so happy you found us
and couldn’t be more pleased
to have you as a member
of the Wake and District Public Safety family.


weapons of war…

Sharing from — ScotClans – The Clans are here —

James Reid was one of several pipers who played at the Battle of Culloden. He was captured along with 558 men by Cumberland’s troops and taken to England. There James was put on trial and accused of high treason against the English Crown. Piper Reid claimed that he was innocent because he did not have a gun or a sword. He said that the only thing he did that day on the battlefield was play the bagpipe.

After some deliberation the judges had a different opinion on the matter. They said that a highland regiment never marched to war without a piper at its head. Therefore, in the eyes of the law, the bagpipe was an instrument of war. James Reid was condemned and subsequently hanged then drawn and quartered.

The decision of those judges has echoed down through the generations. It was the first recorded occasion that a musical instrument was officially declared a weapon of war. For hundreds of years and many conflicts to come the bagpipes, when listed among the items captured in combat, was counted among rifles, sabers, and munitions. It is interesting to note that bugles and drums were recorded as musical instruments, where the bagpipe ranked among the lists of weapons. This continued through the Great War. Perhaps a fitting place for the pipes, but a tragic legacy for the piper James Reid who played at the last bloody battle of the Jacobites on Culloden Moor.

In 1996, after some disputes with authorities, a man known as Mr Brooks was taken to court for playing the pipes on Hamstead Heath, an act forbidden under a Victorian by-law stating the playing of any musical instrument is banned. Mr Brooks plead not guilty by, claiming the pipes are not a musical instrument, but instead a weapon of war , citing the case of James Reid as a precedent. The unanimous verdict was that the pipes are first and foremost musical instruments returning them form a weapon of war to their rightful place as a musical instrument.

Until 1996, the bagpipes were classified as a weapon of war.  Today we’ll look at a couple of the men behind the pipes, those that played into battle to inspire the men and cause dread in their foes…

Piper Bill Millin

William “Bill” Millin, commonly known as Piper Bill, was the personal piper to Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, commander of 1st Special Service Brigade. Millin is best remembered for playing the pipes whilst under fire during the D-Day landing in Normandy.

Millin was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada on 14 July 1922. His father, who was a native Scot, moved the family back to Glasgow when he was three. He joined the Territorial Army in Fort William and played in the pipe bands of the Highland Light Infantry and the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders before volunteering as a commando and training with Lovat at Achnacarry, near Fort William in Scotland. Lovat had appointed Millin as his personal piper during this commando training.

Pipers have traditionally been used in battle by Scottish and Irish soldiers. However, the use of bagpipes was restricted to rear areas by the time of the Second World War by the British Army. Lovat, nevertheless, ignored these orders when making their landing at Sword Beach on D-day and ordered Millin, then aged 21, to play. When Private Millin demurred, citing the regulations, he recalled later, Lord Lovat replied: “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.” He played “Hielan’ Laddie” and “The Road to the Isles” as his comrades fell around him on Sword Beach.

Millin was the only man during the landing who wore a kilt, the same Cameron tartan kilt his father had worn in Flanders during World War I, and he was armed only with his pipes and the sgian-dubh, sheathed inside his kilt-hose on the right side. In keeping with Scottish tradition, he wore no underwear beneath the kilt. He later told author Peter Caddick-Adams that the coldness of the water took his breath away. Millin states that he later talked to captured German snipers who claimed they did not shoot at him because they thought he was crazy.

Lovat and Millin advanced from Sword Beach to Pegasus Bridge, which had been defiantly defended by men of the 2nd Bn the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry (6th Airborne Division) who had landed in the early hours by glider. To the sound of Millin’s bagpipes, the commandos marched across Pegasus Bridge. During the march, twelve men died, most shot through their berets. Later detachments of the commandos rushed across in small groups with helmets on. Millin’s D-Day bagpipes were later donated to the now Pegasus Bridge Museum.

Millin saw further action with the 1st SSB in the Netherlands and Germany before being demobbed (demobilised) in 1946 and going to work on Lord Lovat’s highland estate. In the 1950s he became a registered psychiatric nurse in Glasgow, moving south to a hospital in Devon in the late ’60s until he retired in the Devon town of Dawlish in 1988. He made regular trips back to Normandy for commemoration ceremonies. France awarded him a Croix d’Honneur award for gallantry in June 2009.

Millin, who suffered a stroke in 2003, died in hospital in Torbay on 17 August 2010, aged 88. His wife Margaret, from Edinburgh, died in 2000. He was survived by their son John.

With the help of son John Millin and the Dawlish Royal British Legion, a bronze life-size statue of Piper Bill Millin was unveiled on 8 June 2013 at Colleville-Montgomery, near Sword Beach, in France.