In 1918 Colonel Richard F. Yost was a Military Police Sergeant with the American 3rd Army stationed in Genoa, Italy. While directing traffic, he heard the skirl of the pipes and presently a pipe band came into view on its way to entertain troops in a convalescent hospital. The sound struck a responsive chord in him and he vowed that if he got home safely he would start such a band. It took ten years, but when VFW Post 556, of which he was a member, lost its drum corps, the Colonel proposed forming a pipe band. The idea was accepted by the members, even though there wasn’t a Scot in the post or a set of pipes in the city of York. With the help of equipment and uniforms purchased by Colonel Yost, a piping instructor from Philadelphia, and a lot of very hard work the band was able to perform in its first parade, Armistice Day, November 11, 1928.
For the next eight years the band was busy with VFW affairs and improving their skills, but in 1936 the band was adopted by the St. Andrews Society of Baltimore to be its official pipe band. Since that point, the band has also been named the official marching band of the City of York, the St. Andrews Society of the Eastern Shore, the Harford Highland Society and the Association of Susquehanna Scots.
The band has played for three World’s Fairs: Chicago, New York and San Francisco. On its’ western tour they played in Portland, Denver, Salt Lake, Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. In 1938 the band won the Band Championship at Gettysburg at the 75th Blue and Grey Reunion. They have been host band at the Grandfather Mountain in 1967 and 1968 and were featured in the 1974 Canadian Exposition in Toronto. They played at the White House Park in 1938 and again in 1975, the Philadelphia Revolutionary Bi-centennial Parade. In 2001 the Band participated in the Pipefest 10,000 pipes and drums in New York City, with Sir Sean Connery as Grand Marshall. Annually the band marches in about 14 parades, three Kirkin’ o the Tartans, and numerous other performances.
Colonel Yost was president of the band until his death in 1966. The Band was formed as a non-profit charitable Corporation to preserve the music and history of Scotland and to teach this to generations to come. Members receive no pay except travel expenses. All uniforms and drums are Band property and are issued to members free of charge. Students enjoy free lessons and interest free financing for pipes.
The Band is presently under the direction of Pipe Major Donna Singley. Others who held this honorable position include: Colonel Yost, James Ayres, Richard Wagner, Gladstone (Blackie) Wales, Donald Crawford, Robert Davidson and James C. Britcher.
Although the Band’s original charter limited membership to VFW members with foreign war experience and their sons, membership now includes males and females of all ages, with no military experience requirement. The only requirement is the willingness to learn pipes, drums or highland dancing, and to be willing to maintain a 60% participation in practices and performances.
In 2003, the Band celebrated its’ 75th Anniversary.