By Sgt. 1st Class Kelvin RingoldAugust 20, 2019
FORT HOOD, Texas - In the United States military, the sound of the bugle calls are unmistakable on forts, camps and installations around the world. In the morning, service members hear the sound of Reveille as the U.S. flag is raised and render their proper salute. At the end of the duty day, military members hear the sound of the retreat bugle call and it signifies more than just the duty day being over.
Soldiers and leaders from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, participated in a retreat ceremony on Hildner Field Aug. 16.
The term retreat is a Crusaders-era French bugle call and historically was played at sunset to signify the requirement for Soldiers to return to their quarters. Once used to signal orders to service members on the battlefield and on bases, today they are played during ceremonies and at specific times on each military installation.
The retreat ceremony has been used in the Army since the Revolutionary War, and 13th ESC's Chief of Staff Col. Brian Wolford reflected on what it meant to him.
"Hearing retreat always reminds me of the tradition and lineage of the men and women in uniform who came before us," Wolford said. "They paved the way and sacrificed a lot for our nation. These traditions continue to allow us to honor the flag and pay homage to them as well."
The bugle call retreat is sounded just before the U.S. flag is lowered. At the last note of retreat, a cannon is fired followed by The Star-Spangled Banner and the flag is lowered as the anthem plays.
If there is no band or recording of the The Star-Spangled Banner, the flag is lowered during the To the Color bugle call. Military members then render the proper salute while facing the flag or in the direction of the music.
For younger Soldiers who haven't been in the Army for long, the opportunity to experience traditions like the retreat ceremony give them a better understanding of military heritage.
"The flag ceremony was something I hadn't seen before," explained Spc. Tau Tufu III, 13th ESC. "It was interesting how they coordinated it with the steps involved and it going so smoothly. I was cool seeing something you don't see very often for me."
During the ceremony and with the 13th ESC color guard in position at the flag pole, the bugle call for retreat began to play. Once To the Color began to play, the color guard lowered the flag slowly and meticulously.
As the flag was lowered, the color guard noncommissioned officer in charge ensured no part of the flag touched the ground or any other object, as the other members of the team awaited to receive the flag with waiting hands and arms.
After the flag was neatly and ceremoniously folded the NCOIC inspected the flag ensuring it was to standard, and the team marched off the field to secure the flag.
"Military ceremonies like today's retreat ceremony are an important part of the Army profession," said Col. Allen Cassell, 13th ESC's Deputy Commander. "Ceremonies remind us and our community partners the military is steeped in tradition and has defended this nation for 244 years."