Fort Buchanan bugle calls
Fort Buchanan bugle calls

FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico -- When I arrived to Fort Buchanan in April 2008, one of my first initiatives was to re-establish the long-standing tradition of military bugle calls to announce certain scheduled and non-scheduled events on the installation.

Shortly after arriving, I received dozens of comments from Soldiers and civilians alike as to why Fort Buchanan does not play Reveille, Retreat or Taps, as well as other bugle calls.

The comments alone told me that Fort Buchanan was a military installation with great history and love of Army tradition.

Technicians and contractors came from the states to diagnosis the problem and provide an estimate to either repair the system or replace it all together. I was informed the electronic system that played the daily bugle calls was in disrepair and would require nearly $70,000 to $100,000 to replace.

Fast forward to the late afternoon of Wednesday, November 5, when precisely at 1700, I heard the beautiful sounds of Retreat and To the Color signaling the end of the official day.

I immediately called the Fort Buchanan Police Desk where the system is manned to speak to the individual who made the system come "alive" once again.

The individual answering the phone was Army Police Sergeant Victor Labrador, who in fact was the "technician" working on the notification system.

I learned that Sergeant Labrador just returned from an overseas deployment as an Army Reservist and was trained on how to operate and repair the notification system.
Within days of returning, Sergeant Labrador looked at the system and was able to repair the problems that prevented the playing of the bugle calls. Needless, I can't tell you how good it is to have Sergeant Labrador back on the job!

Now that you know the story of the broken notification system, let me share with you the history of the bugle call and why it's important to carry on the traditions of the Army.

The bugle was essential to all military communication until its displacement by electronics. The primary bugler was assigned to the headquarters staff and kept close to the commander at the front.

Soldiers were quick to learn the calls of the bugle, and on a routine day at least four, and as many as ten calls, were made. The enlisted Soldier's life was regulated by bugle calls - the daily routine included breakfast, dinner, and supper calls; fatigue call, drill call, stable and water calls, sick call, and taps.

The bugle was first used as a signal instrument in the American Army during the Revolutionary War to announce certain scheduled and non-scheduled events for military units. The bugle calls evolved from Continental Army contacts with the French and English armies during the Revolutionary War. Each call melody carried a different and specific meaning. While it may have been difficult for a new private to learn the meaning of all the calls, you can be sure they picked up on it very fast. Hearing a horn blowing in the morning telling you to wake up, one telling you it was time to eat, or another telling you it was finally time for bed become familiar very quickly.

In the early years of our nation's independence, each arm and branch of the Army developed its own set of "sound signals" - drum beats in the Infantry; bugle calls in the Cavalry and Artillery. By the end of the Civil War the Artillery, Cavalry, and Infantry were sounding bugle calls.

In 1867, General Emory Upton directed Major Truman Seymour, 5th U.S. Artillery, to prepare a definitive system of calls to eliminating the confusion evident during the Civil War. Major Seymour reviewed all the calls then in use in the Army. He discarded some, revised others, and finally fashioned the set of calls which have remained in use up to the present time.

In 1867, bugle calls were standardized for all branches of the Army. As weapons became more powerful and the ranges of these weapons increased, the function of the bugle call became less and less useful.

Technology has taken over many of tasks and communication typically associated with the sounds of the bugle, however; on nearly every permanent base, fort, post, or camp run by the United States military bugle calls are still used daily both as a functional and ceremonial device.

There are four basic categories of bugle calls plus a ceremonial category -
Aca,!Ac Alarm Call - signal that immediate action is necessary, typically used in case of fire (both burning and enemy varieties)
Aca,!Ac Formation Call - signal that units should assemble in formation, or that they should perform a specific action while in formation
Aca,!Ac Service Call - signal service oriented events and routine activities such as wake-up, meal time, sick call, etc.
Aca,!Ac Warning Call - signal that an event is about to happen, and to be prepared
Aca,!Ac Ceremonial Call - Music normally conducted by a military band at official military formations and ceremonies can be played by one or more buglers if a band is not present.
Reveille - 0600 hours
Reveille is played at dawn to awaken the troops for morning roll call. It is also used to accompany the raising of the National Colors.

All military personnel within sight or sound of the ceremony are required to render honors to the nation.

Military personnel outside will face the flag or direction of the music, come to attention and render the hand-salute.

If in a vehicle, the vehicle should safely pull to the right side of the road and stop.
The driver or individual in charge of the vehicle will exit the vehicle, face the flag or music and render the proper courtesy.

Civilians are encouraged to render the proper courtesy to the National Colors by removing any headgear and placing their hand over their heart.

Retirees and veteran's are now authorized to render the hand-salute.
Mess Call - 0730 hours
Mess Call is played to signal personnel that it is mealtime.
Mess Call - 1200 hours
Mess Call is played to signal personnel that it is mealtime.
Mess Call - 1630 hours
Mess Call is played to signal personnel that it is mealtime.

Retreat and To The Colors - 1700 hours

Retreat is played to signal the end of the official day. To The Colors is played at the last note of retreat.

To The Colors commands all the same courtesies as the National Anthem.

All military personnel within sight or sound of the ceremony are required to render honors to the nation. Military personnel outside will face the flag or direction of the music, come to attention and render the hand-salute.

If in a vehicle, the vehicle should safely pull to the right side of the road and stop. The driver or individual in charge of the vehicle will exit the vehicle, face the flag or music and render the proper courtesy.

Civilians are encouraged to render the proper courtesy to the National Colors by removing any headgear and placing their hand over their heart.

Retirees and veteran's are now authorized to render the hand-salute.
Tattoo - 2100 hours
Tattoo is played to signal that all light in squad rooms be extinguished and that all loud talking and other disturbances be discontinued within 15 minutes.
Taps - 2200 hours
Taps is the last bugle call of the day and is played to signal that unauthorized lights are to be extinguished.

Should you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 707-3414. And, as always, thank you for your continued support. Army Strong!

Page last updated Wed December 31st, 2008 at 11:32