Marching in Style
Trojan Marching Band alum Don Beckhart ’55 gets jock jacket — seven decades later.
Don Beckhart 55 proudly played trombone for four years in the USC Trojan Marching Band. He was among the first to step down the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum peristyle and play Conquest, marched in the front row of the Rose Parade and performed at the Rose Bowl game.
He left USC with a degree in zoology and cherished memories of the Spirit of Troy, but without the one thing band members cherish: his letterman jacket, known to band members as the jock jacket.
Thats because Beckhart played from 1951-55, long before jock jackets were an institution and given as recognition for years of dedicated service.
In 2022, almost 70 years after graduation, Beckhart finally received his personalized jock jacket, along with a TMB shirt and cap, through the efforts of his daughter, Debbie Penderghast, and the Trojan Marching Band Alumni Association (TMBAA).
When I was at USC, these jackets didnt exist, Beckhart says. To get this jacket brings me back to a time in my life that Ive never forgotten and will always cherish with wonderful memories.
The effort began when Penderghast contacted Robert Campos, a TMBAA board member, after her father had visited the new band pavilion, saw the memorabilia on display and explained how much a jock jacket would mean to him. Touched by Beckharts story, Campos worked with fellow board member Betsey Dillon to obtain a custom jacket for him.
Its exciting to have the opportunity to make a dream come true and to provide long-overdue recognition for a proud alum, says Dillon.
I was in the front rank, front row, in front of a packed Coliseum. The people in the Coliseum had never heard Conquest before! It was an absolute thrill and its a great trombone number!Don Beckhart
Beckharts memories of his time at TMB remain vivid, even decades later: I remember marching in the Rose Parade 5 and a half miles [and] seeing Tommy Walker, the drum major, strut the entire parade. He also recalls performing TMB anthem Conquest to a packed Coliseum, possibly for the first time.
I was in the front rank, front row, in front of a packed Coliseum. The people in the Coliseum had never heard Conquest before! It was an absolute thrill and its a great trombone number!
Beckharts Trojan spirit never waned he continued attending TMB performances with his family, working his way to a front-row position as the band played. Penderghast says, Whenever the TMB was performing, my father was there, dancing and smiling like he was still a member of the band.
His Trojan ties even led to his grandson Garrett Penderghasts decision to attend USC. We watched the band play Tusk and Conquest during the USC welcome experience, says Debbie Penderghast. And Garrett was captivated I knew he was envisioning his 18-year-old grandfather playing in the trombone section.
Beckhart attended his grandsons graduation in 2022, where the trombonist wore his well-earned jock jacket. Debbie Penderghast says, I understand the joy my father feels in being a marching band alum. The Spirit of Troy is just that magical!