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News > When to stop, when to salute the bugle call
When to stop, when to salute the bugle call

Posted 7/28/2011   Updated 7/28/2011 Email story   Print story


by David Bedard
JBER Public Affairs

7/28/2011 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Customs and courtesies during the daily sounding of "Reveille" and "Retreat" differ slightly between the Air Force and Army on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
The songs, played through the installation's mass notification system, signify the raising and lowering of the national colors.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Kuehnl, 673d Air Base Wing command chief, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Kimball, 673d ABW command sergeant major, the differences pertain mainly to rendering honors, when driving a vehicle and in the numerous bugle calls encountered on the former Army garrison.

"On Air Force installations, the normal protocol is, if you are outside, in uniform, you should face the flag or the direction of the music if the flag is not visible, and render the proper honors: stand at attention and salute," Kuehnl said. "If you are not in uniform, you would stand at attention, face the flag or the music, and you can use what is called the 'civilian salute,' place your hand over your heart, or you can just stand at attention. Civilians would basically be the same as a military member not in uniform."

Kuehnl said honors are simple enough when driving a vehicle on the former Air Force base side.

"If you are in a vehicle, then you stop the vehicle, normally pulling off the road completely and sit quietly in the vehicle," she explained.

Kuehnl said she turns off her radio in respect of the music honoring the colors, and she opens her window so she can best hear the honors.

All too often, she said, motorists will ignore the signal to honor our nation's flag.
"You'll see two or three cars stopped, and the occupants are doing the right thing," Kuehnl said. "And everyone else is just passing them."

Kimball said vehicle procedures on the former Army post differ in accordance with Army Regulation 600-25, "Salutes, Honors, and Visits of Courtesy."

He said, during "Reveille" and "Retreat," moving vehicles will stop. Military passengers and drivers will dismount and render the proper courtesies. When in buses and trucks, only the senior occupant will dismount and render courtesies.

"It's important to understand there is a difference," Kuehnl said of the two sides of JBER. "You need to do what your organization requires.

"Is it wrong for an Air Force person, who may be on the Richardson side of the installation who sees everyone jumping out of their cars, to do the same?" she asked, before answering the question. "Absolutely not. I would think that I need to show that commonality. We wear the uniform, we're serving the same country, and neither is right or wrong. It's simply the culture of that organization."

Another major difference both non-commissioned officers cited is what happens with the flags on either side of the installation.

Kuehnl said, because all of the Air Force flags including those at the 3rd Wing headquarters, the POW/MIA monument, and the Yukla 27 memorial are lit 24/7, they are never lowered except in cases of severe weather.

Kimball said, on the former Army post, the garrison flag at Pershing Field is unlit and is raised and lowered by military police daily. He also said the responsibility for raising and lowering the garrison flag will soon shift from garrison MPs to U.S. Army Alaska to perpetuate Army customs at JBER.

"Reveille" and "Retreat" are accompanied by a cannon salute fired from a World War II-era 75-millimeter pack howitzer using 10-gauge shotgun shells to simulate the signature boom of the artillery piece.

The Army senior NCO said although both installations play "Reveille" at the beginning of the day, the former Army post plays "Retreat" and "To the Colors" at the end of the day, while the former Air Force base plays "Retreat" and the "Star Spangled Banner."

Yet another difference, which may catch Air Force personnel off guard when visiting the former Army post, is the litany of bugle calls spread throughout the day.

According to Patrick Tipton, 673d ABW Plans and Programs, the former garrison uses the mass notification system to play scheduled music which includes everything from "Reveille" in the morning to "Tattoo" and "Taps" at the end of the day.

A pet peeve of both NCOs is people who make a mad dash for a building or a vehicle to avoid rendering honors at the proper times.

"Five o'clock is when 'Retreat' is sounded," Kuehnl said. "It doesn't matter what side of the installation you are on, or if you are halfway in between, we know at five o'clock, the flag's coming down, whether it's actually coming down on the Richardson side or symbolically on the Elmendorf side demonstrate the respect the colors deserve."

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